Not All Superheroes Wear A Cape
In August 2018, AMT announced the launch of its inaugural Mentoring Program. In early October 2018, 20 matched pairs were introduced and 6 months of mentoring began.
AMT thanks those 40 people for getting involved and providing feedback on what worked, what didn’t, what was missing and how it could be even better for the next round of mentoring.
Here’s what a few participants said about taking part in the pilot mentoring program.
Margaret – Mentee
The recent opportunity to take part in AMT’s pilot mentoring program was one of the most significant experiences of my recent life. It exceeded whatever I may have hoped for, and within the first two meetings.
I had gone out on my own immediately upon graduating and felt I was making many basic mistakes common to new business owners:
- Not researching my target market sufficiently, therefore trying to be all things to all people
- Creating ad hoc marketing material
- Being over-optimistic about how long it would take to establish my business and start earning some money
- Focusing so much on massaging that I neglected to build community contacts
- Feeling alone and not reaching out for help
I wanted to learn how someone more experienced in running a massage business had got to their current, successful stage. And then along came this amazing opportunity to be paired with a mentor who’d been through just what I was going through.
Through the mentoring scheme, I found a new sense of excitement about who I was and where I was heading. Up until then, I had felt like the world was on my shoulders.
Our first meeting was a ‘get to know you’ session, where we shared our respective massage journeys and I was able to articulate some of the issues I’d been struggling with. We talked about some of the things we might cover, keeping our options open as we recognised that goals may change throughout the course of our meetings. Things developed over the course of our monthly catch-ups.
It’s amazing how having conversations with another person, rather than talking to myself, forced me to be more articulate and really think about what I wanted to achieve.
What overwhelmed me was the unbounded generosity of my mentor, who shared so much information and material that I had enough to inspire me for weeks.
It got me to thinking about who my real target market was and what I could do for them. It helped me to realise that I needed to personalise my material so that people could see who they were dealing with, and what problems of theirs I could address.
My mentor advised me that people would be interested in human stories and not ready-made images of glamorous young people lying on tables with flowers in their hair.
She got me to realise where my passion lay and, when I looked at the training I was in the process of undertaking, I knew that I wanted to change direction and focus predominantly on a new modality. I found that my increasing passion for this new modality enabled me to clarify what value I could bring to people.
It is still a work in progress, but it has given me a purpose that I previously lacked and enabled my business planning to be much smarter as well as making my approach much more human. I even reduced my procrastinating.
I am so grateful to AMT for finding me such a great mentor.
To my mentor: “You have changed my life for the better. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
Nicola – Mentor
There have been moments in my nearly 20-year career where I have felt lost and uncertain of the next steps to take. This was most noticeable when I began my business in a country town.
At that time, Facebook groups were not a big thing. Residing 3 hours from the city made it difficult to attend workshops, gatherings or association meetings on a regular basis. There were Massage Therapists and allied health professionals in my community, however there was difficulty in establishing genuine, supportive relationships. I drew strength upon this to reach out and learn from practitioners in other parts of Australia and further afield.
I taught myself how to grow and market my business using content creation, persisting with building trust and establishing a referral network, nurturing client relationships and coaching my staff. It was an incredible 5-year journey which saw my business grow to a 6-figure clinic with 3 staff and 3 contractors.
When the opportunity came to become a mentor in the pilot program, I felt like I won the jackpot. I needed this program as a new graduate gaining employment and 11 years later when I was building my business. With all of my learning and experience, I knew I had to participate.
My matched mentee lived on the other side of Australia. We had some barriers. Face-to-face meetings were simply not a possibility. With the 3-hour time difference and our own commitments, it was challenging to find a time that suited us both. Yet, we persevered to find a time for regular phone calls and committed to email communication in between.
Initially we had fortnightly calls to establish a rapport and get to know each other. The wonders of modern technology meant that it was easy to learn more about each other’s business via our websites and social media platforms. I was able to gain insight into my mentee’s business and the type of services offered.
One of the key areas we worked on was looking at ways to grow their practice through consistent marketing and communication to build and maintain a loyal client following. This involved revisiting the business plan, identifying ideal clients and opportunities for networking and referral partnerships. We worked on using the current database to create an email marketing plan that was light-hearted and informative. This resulted in generating bookings and engaging those clients who hadn’t been in for awhile to connect.
Our system of regular calls and emails in between established trust and cemented our relationship. Being able to share information, ask questions or just touch base was invaluable, giving a sense of accountability and direction for their business. We both found, though, that with Christmas falling in the middle of the program, plus our individual holidays around that time, we did lose some momentum.
One of the highlights of the mentor process was through the focus on the ideal client. Doing this, my mentee discovered a new niche. This led to clarity and action being taken to become qualified in the chosen niche field. Having a goal and new direction made marketing easier and provided my mentee with a fresh approach moving forward in their business. I am happy to say that we will continue our relationship, touching base with emails and catching up. I am excited to see what the rest of this year brings for my mentee.
Being a mentor reinforced how much I have grown as a business owner and how incredibly skilled and knowledgeable I have become at building client relationships through communication and marketing.
I highly recommend the AMT Mentoring Program; it is an invaluable opportunity and can only improve our industry as a whole.
Janelle – Mentee
My intention with joining the AMT Mentoring Program was to motivate myself to get up and running in my new career as a Remedial Massage Therapist. I expected to pick up advice, have a sounding board, develop processes and have accountability – mostly to myself but also another more experienced therapist.
Exchange of knowledge is always a good thing, which I learned from many years in a library environment in a former career.
My mentor was located interstate away but we communicated by email and progressed to phone conversations.
Program manager Wendy warned us that ‘the droop’ might happen.
One of the most common occurrences in mentoring is “relationship droop” – the sogginess that comes after six months or so, when the easy, surface issues have been dealt with.
David Clutterbuck, 20141
I was experiencing the droop when, after one phone call with my mentor, I looked back over some notes and read a question my mentor had asked – ‘Have you ever worked in a clinic?’
Something clicked in.
I had set up to work from home, so it hadn’t been a consideration of mine to work elsewhere, except perhaps as a mobile massage therapist. Some fellow graduate friends had worked in a clinic and hadn’t enjoyed it, however, curiosity got the better of me, so the very next day I trundled off to see what was out there.
I spied a new business across the road – an Holistic Health Centre – so in I popped.
The naturopath owner was welcoming and seemed impressed that I knew something about one of her advertised brochure articles. I mentioned that my field was Remedial Massage and before I knew it, we were talking about a starting date for me to work from her lovely premises. One day a week only, but enough for me presently.
Currently, I am loving the opportunity to work around like-minded health professionals, including naturopaths, nutritionists, an iridologist and another massage therapist.
This is my little success story and what I have in my life now, thanks to the mentoring program and support from the professionals at AMT.
Anastasia – Mentor
I was initially a bit hesitant about becoming involved as a mentor in AMT’s pilot program. I was worried that I was already fairly over-committed time wise and wouldn’t be able to provide a mentee with the focus and support they required. Also, I have done a fair amount of informal mentoring over the years within the massage industry so I was concerned that I might be a bit empty in the tank – did I really have anything to offer a mentee?
In the end, I found myself swept up in the excitement and applied to be a part of the pilot program. I really wanted to support AMT in the endeavour because I think it’s going to be a bit of a game changer. And, I must admit, I was incredibly curious about what a formal scheme was going to be like compared with what I had experienced in informal settings.
The first thing all applicants were required to do (both mentees and mentors) was complete a short training program prior to being matched. From this point on, it became clear that the relationship was not going to be a one-way street, and I was gratified by how much I learned over the course of the 6 months, both personally and professionally.
I think I was particularly fortunate in my pairing. The mentee I was matched with was exceptionally organised in his goal setting (which I gather from the program webinars was something many mentees struggled with a little).
Although our time together wasn’t always 100% focused, having a clear agenda and purpose meant there wasn’t a whole lot of aimless chitchat.
Yes, we occasionally went off on some interesting tangents but having a structure in place allowed us that luxury without compromising or diluting our sessions together. (In fact, it was probably testament to the power of the program matching algorithm that it threw up two slightly dreamy, idealistic and possibly even odd introverts who both enjoyed mulling over the big picture. Unless I have just described the entire massage therapy profession, in which case, nothing to see here.)
My mentee and I live in separate cities so the majority of our get-togethers were by Skype or phone. It was a lot easier than I expected to make time in my schedule for the sessions. I think this may partly be because I really looked forward to our time together so it didn’t feel like an imposition or a burden.
It’s hard to express how glad I am that I decided to volunteer to be part of the pilot. AMT is pretty good at building a sense of community between members but this took things to another level: there was an intimacy about being involved (for want of a better word) or maybe a conspiracy of collaboration for the 20 lucky pairs of therapists who took part. Although I was nominally the one providing guidance in the relationship with my mentee, the feeling of being supported and involved in something bigger than yourself is pretty special. I really hope others in a similar position in their massage therapy career will seriously consider getting on board.
And now for the even better news …
Applications are now open for the 2019 AMT mentoring program. You can find out more about participating in our handy information booklet and you can head to the platform page to apply to be part of the program.
The mentoring program is exclusive to AMT members.
References: 1. Why Mentors Need Supervision by David Clutterbuck, article posted 9 July 2014.