Karen is a physical therapist with over 18 years’ experience. She earned her doctorate in physical therapy from Misericordia University. She currently owns and operates a concierge Physical Therapy business in New York City. She also hosts a successful podcast “Healthy, Wealthy & Smart” where she interviews leaders in PT, health and business.
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3 Key Points:
- Learning the neuroscience of pain can help you improve your daily routine.
- Be open to new ideas and new things.
- Use your time in the areas you’re good at and let other people help you.
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Time Stamped Show Notes
(click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.)
- [01:05] – Karen has been in New York for 15 years and loves it
- [01:44] – Karen specializes in helping people with painful conditions improve, move and live better
- [02:10] – The misconception on pain
- [04:13] – Worst Entrepreneurial Moment: When Karen was experiencing physical pain for the first time – and the impact it had on her life
- [09:15] – Entrepreneurial AH-HA Moment: Karen was getting cranky because of her workload so she hired people to work for her
- [12:13] – Use your time in the areas you’re good at
- [13:03] – “It’s okay to let go and let people help you”
- [13:45] – What is the one thing you are most FIRED up about today? Karen is excited about her first live event, which she organized with 2 fellow physical therapists
- [14:35] – The event is called The Women in PT Summit
- [15:05] – The Lightning Round
- What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur? – The feeling of the impostor syndrome
- What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? – Sometimes you really have to make sacrifices in one part of your life in order to move forward in another
- What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success? – When I say I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it
- Share an internet resource, like Evernote, with Fire Nation – MeetEdgar
- If you could recommend one book to our listeners, what would it be and why? – Simple: Conquering the Crisis of Complexity
- [19:12] – Connect with Karen through her website and Twitter
- [19:34] – If you are having pain or things that are holding you back, get the right help
Karen Litzy: I am ready.
John Lee Dumas: Karen is a physical therapist with over 18 years of experience. She earned her Doctorate in Physical Therapy and she currently owns and operates a concierge physical therapy business in NYC. She also hosts a successful podcast Healthy Wealthy & Smart where she interviews leaders in PT health and business. Karen, take a minute, fill in some gaps from that intro, and give us a little glimpse of your personal life.
Karen Litzy: Sure! Like you said, I live and work in New York City and I have been here about 15 years now, so I think that makes me like a real New Yorker.
John Lee Dumas: I think it does! I was there for six months and I can't honestly say the same.
Karen Litzy: I've been here for 15 years, I moved here from Pennsylvania a couple years after I graduated, knowing really no one except for maybe three people. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. I absolutely love being here in New York. The energy's great and I feel like it really allows me to do the work that I do.
John Lee Dumas: So let's talk about what you consider your area of expertise for a second. Just in a sentence, two at the max, kind of sum it up for Fire Nation, where's your specialty lie?
Karen Litzy: My specialty lies in helping people with painful conditions improve, move better, and feel better, and go on to live the life that they love and that they want.
John Lee Dumas: Okay, within that, what would you say is something that we should know as just humans, maybe even as entrepreneurs, that we probably don't know?
Karen Litzy: I think one of the biggest – there's huge misconceptions around pain – one of the biggest is that if I have pain, therefor something has to be injured, or there's a tissue injury. Something's wrong with the body. That's not necessarily true. I find with people who have acute pain – let's say you step on a nail, you'd wanna know about it, right? Pain is normal and you wanna know that you have pain. What happens is if you have pain for a couple of months, it becomes what we call persistent pain or chronic pain. At that point, the original injury has probably healed, yet the pain is still sticking around. That's because your nervous system just got a little more sensitive.
As an entrepreneur and as someone who works with a lot of entrepreneurs in New York City, when you have pain, especially pain that sticks around for a long time, it sure does make it a lot harder for you to work, to concentrate and to be productive. I think being able to address your painful conditions and going to the right healthcare providers not only can help decrease your pain, but can help improve your business and help keep you moving forward.
John Lee Dumas: This is important and this is why I like to ask this question, this is where you specialize, Karen, this is where your knowledge base is. The Fire Nation, we're not gonna be masters at everything, we don't know everything, so when we can get a little piece of insight and guidance on something like this topic that we just don't know much about, that can make all the difference in the world. Karen, thank you for sharing that.
Let's kind of move on to your journey as an entrepreneur. You've had the ups, you've had the downs, you've been rocking and rolling for 18 years now. That's just a great career for a lot of people and you're just getting going. Take us to what you consider your worst entrepreneurial moment to date and tell us that story
Karen Litzy: My worst entrepreneurial moment was about seven or eight years ago. I was working part-time in a physical therapy clinic and doing the side hustle: building up my own concierge practice on the side. I was also right in the middle of suffering from chronic neck pain. There were days where I had trouble getting out of bed. I would go to sleep and I would just pray, “Please say I can get up out of bed the next day without all of this pain.” It was my neck and down into my hands so it actually made work really difficult. Can you imagine, as a physical therapist, not being able to use your hands the way that you want to, and not being able to move to treat your patients was devastating. At this time, I was thinking, “How can I even build up my own practice if I don't even know if I can have a practice because of the amount of pain I was in.”
And it was every day, just to varying degrees. I really had to take a step back and think, “Is being an entrepreneur for me if I can't even get through the day.” If I can't even concentrate on what I need to do on a daily basis, how can I possibly grow a practice and be successful? This was a really, really tough moment in life, in general, and in my business. Within this time frame I went to a conference and there was a speaker there from Australia named Dr. David Butler. He was talking about pain in ways that I had not heard before. Everything that he was saying about pain was exactly how I was feeling. I was emotional; I started even tearing up a little bit. Meeting him and hearing him say that whatever your injury was a couple of years ago, it's healed and you don't have to be afraid of it anymore.
Decreasing the fear around everything that I did helped me to improve. Doing things – I would say, “Oh, I can't carry anything because it's gonna hurt my neck. I can't go for a run or I can't exercise, it's gonna hurt my neck.” He looked at me and said, “Why can't you run! What does that have to do with your neck? Go out and run, run for ten minutes and see how it feels.” And so I started on this journey of doing a little bit more every day, and within a couple of months 90 percent of my pain was gone.
It was learning more about the neuroscience behind pain and how it affects not just your body, but your psyche, and your mind, and your drive, and your happiness. Setting out on a journey doing a little bit more physical activity every day. Now, I can happily look back on what was one of my worst moments, both as an entrepreneur and as a person, and say, “Boy, that worst moment was there for a reason because it lead me to go listen to this lecture “, which, now that was probably five or six years ago. I can say now if I have pain, it's weird,. It's an anomaly. Before, it was the usual.
John Lee Dumas: Fire Nation, what I want you to take away from this is: we're going to come up against obstacles every single day in our journey, of some kind. For some, it's gonna be pain – which I've experienced, which Karen's talking about right now. Real, physical pain. For others, it's gonna be x, y, z – fill in the blank – different business problems, family problems, relationship issues, money issues. There's always going to be these obstacles. The solution that you are looking for might not actually be the traditional route, might not be what you've always been thinking.
There might be something outside of the box that you need to educate yourself on. That's why when Karen invested in herself, went to this conference, had this mindset shift because of this new doctor's perspective, things change. That's happened for me when it comes to pain, when it comes to health, when it comes to business, when it comes to money, when it comes to relationships. Just realize you have to be open to new experiences, to new ideas, to new things. You just never know what's going to impact your life positively.
Karen, let's kind of talk about another aspect of your journey, this one being an “AH-HA” moment. Of course, that was a huge AH-HA moment that you had when you were at this conference and you had that whole mindset shift, but what's one of your greatest ideas to date? Tell us that story.
Karen Litzy: It was actually about a year ago. I was working, seeing patients in their homes. I was growing a podcast. I was trying to do show notes – we all know how important those show notes are, and how time consuming they are. You want to do it right, you want to respect your listeners and respect your audience. I was sort of getting into this mindset of being overworked and cranky – nobody wants a cranky podcast host.
John Lee Dumas: No thanks.
Karen Litzy: No, no, no. Nobody wants a cranky physical therapist coming to their house. That is just a non-negotiable point. I'm a perfectionist, so I always think that the only person who can do it really well is me. Huge mistake. What I decided to do was I hired some people to work for me. I don't even say to work – to work with me and to help me. I hired a virtual assistant and I hired an intern who's a physical therapy student. The physical therapy student does all my show notes and she's a much better writer than I am, so it's perfect. My virtual assistant helps with creating graphics and just making things look beautiful, which are things that I'm not good at.
I'm good at being a PT. I'm good at hosting a podcast and asking good questions. I'm terrible at writing. I hate writing, that's why I don't have a blog and I do a podcast. Realizing that not only do I not have to do everything myself, but that when I don't, it's better. Being able to let go and trust that other people have my best interest at heart – which they certainly do and I'm so thankful for that. The job that they can do has made my life so much simpler and has improved my businesses in ways that I couldn't even imagine. You can't do it all, you just can't.
That was my biggest AH-HA moment, to let that perfectionist side of me go, and realize that there are people out there who want to help you succeed, and who do thinks that, quite frankly, either don't want to do or don't have the time to do. It just elevates your business to a whole new level.
John Lee Dumas: Karen, you said the word “time” a few times. Fire Nation, I wanna drill in on that because all we have, as entrepreneurs, is time. Karen is good at a certain number of things and, guess what, she's not that good at everything else. That's how we are as humans, we're good at a couple of things and we're not good at almost everything else because we haven't had time to become good at all these other things. It's a very precious resource, so guard it.
Use your time and the areas that you're good amplify, become great – because now you're spending time in areas that you're good, you're gonna become great at those things. That's when you're gonna be bringing your greatness to this world. Those other areas that you're not great at, that you're not good at, that you're, frankly, bad at – hire people. Virtual assistants, interns, fill in the blank. You can bring people in to make sure that you're spending your time where it should be, on your greatness, and all the other time that would be otherwise wasted if you're trying to hack at it, you're getting back. You're getting back to do what you love, what you enjoy, what you're meant to be doing.
That's my takeaway from your AH-HA moment, Karen. What do you want to make sure that our listeners get from that story?
Karen Litzy: I think the main thing is that it's okay to let go. It's okay to allow other people to help you and to let other people into your entrepreneurial life or your personal life. The saying is “it takes a village”, right? I think that can be applied, certainly, to the entrepreneurial experience, because you can't do it all. If you try, it'll keep you small. You need to trust and you need to open yourself up and allow that to flow into your life.
John Lee Dumas: Karen, what are you excited about right now?
Karen Litzy: Oh my goodness. Right now, I am really excited about a live event. My very first live event that I am organizing with two other physical therapists that is taking place in like two-and-a-half weeks.
John Lee Dumas: Scary!
Karen Litzy: At one point I was so stressed out about it, I was like, “I need to meditate a little bit longer today.” This is some stressful stuff!
John Lee Dumas: It is!
Karen Litzy: Now, I'm like super psyched about it. Things are just coming together. I know everybody said it would, everybody said, “Don't worry, people usually sign up at the last minute.” That has been the case. When you're organizing it and you're in it, it's just – it is definitely something. Now things are starting to fall into place and I'm really, really excited. It's called the Women in PT Summit and it's there to help elevate women into leadership positions in the profession, to stand out online, and to gain confidence. I couldn't be more excited about it.
John Lee Dumas: Well, congrats on that. Fire Nation, I wanna say congrats because I know you're going to be hanging out in the lightening round. Hang out, don't go anywhere, and we're gonna thank our sponsors.
Karen, are you prepared for the lightening rounds?
Karen Litzy: Yes, yes, I'm ready.
John Lee Dumas: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Karen Litzy: I think the one thing that held me back, and to some extent still does, depending on maybe the day or the week, is the feeling of that impostor syndrome. I know a lot of people say this, but it's true. There's, at times, this little person in the back of my head that's saying, “Really? You think you can do all of this?” It takes time and it takes work to kind of keep that to stay in the back of my mind and to not come and overtake things. I think getting over that impostor syndrome and fighting with that sometimes here and there has probably been one of the biggest things that holds me back.
John Lee Dumas: Karen, what's the best advice you have ever received?
Karen Litzy: I received a great piece of advice from one of my clients. He was a guy who was a CEO of a large bank here in New York City. He gave me a great piece of advice, he said that sometimes you really have to make sacrifices in one part of your life in order to kind of move forward in another. I always think about when maybe I have to really get some work done and so because of that, I can't go out and meet a friend for dinner that night, because I have these obligations that I need to get done. That's sort of that advice that I always think about. In the end, it's all for the greater good.
John Lee Dumas: Can you share a personal habit that contributes to your success?
Karen Litzy: Sure! Something that I'm kind of known for is that when I say I'm gonna do something, I do it. I think it's my attention to detail and follow through that helps to kind of set me apart. If I can't do something I say I don't, I can't do it. I try not to make promises I can't keep. When I say I'm gonna do something, people can depend on that and know that it's gonna get done.
John Lee Dumas: If you could share an internet resource, like Evernote, with Fire Nation, what would it be?
Karen Litzy: It would be Edgar. I love this platform! I had interviewed Laura Roeder, who's the founder of Edgar, and she's the best. I started using it and I – it's not like I get paid to say this – I swear it takes off at least three hours a week. We are talking about how important time is to an entrepreneur; using Edgar has saved me so much time. I love it, I can't say enough good things about it, I love it!
John Lee Dumas: If you could recommend just one book, Karen, what would it be, and why?
Karen Litzy: I recommend a book called Simple: Conquering the Crisis of Complexity, written by Alan Seigel and Irene Etzkorn. Just as the name implies, it really teaches you how to simplify complex thoughts, complex ideas. It doesn't mean that you dumb it down, it means that you take the essence of these very complex things and you simplify it so that people can really understand what you're trying to tell them. It's something that as a physical therapist, we have to do all the time. To really put it into practice as an entrepreneur, you just really want to think about how much easier it is to simplify your message. That's why I just love the book.
John Lee Dumas: Karen, I just want to end today how we started, which is on fire. Give us a parting piece of guidance, the best way that we can connect with you, and then we'll say goodbye.
Karen Litzy: First of all, the best way to connect with me is you can go to my website, karenlitzy.com, or you can follow me on Twitter. I'm pretty active on Twitter, @karenlitzynyc. The best piece of parting advice I can give, from a physical therapist, is – and an entrepreneur – is that if you are having pain or you are having things that are holding you back, try and get in touch with the right person to help you with that. When you're having pain, it's so much harder to move forward in your career because you don't feel all that great about yourself. To overcome that and to be able to come out on the other side, and know that there is certainly hope to do that, is priceless.
John Lee Dumas: You know, as somebody who dealt with chronic back pain for a number of years, I can say that is so true, Fire Nation. It honestly just took me finding the right doctor. It wasn't necessarily the right human being doctor, but actually the right specialty. I had to find that rheumatologist to really get to where I needed to be. Just keep on trying and you will find that right person.
I just want to say, Fire Nation, you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. You've been hanging out with Karen Litzy and JLD today, so keep up the heat. Head over to EOFire.com and just type in Karen with a “K” in the search bar, her shownotes page will come up with everything that we've been talking about today. Best shownotes in the biz, time stamps, links galore. Of course, you can head right to karenlitzy.com, that's L-I-T-Z-Y dot com.
Karen, thank you for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today, for that, we salute you. We'll catch you on the flip side.
Karen Litzy: Thank you very much.
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