On this episode of the Healthy Wealthy and Smart Podcast, Jenna Kantor guest hosts and interviews Karen Litzy on her journey to become a leader of the physical therapy profession. Karen Litzy, PT, DPT is a licensed physical therapist, speaker, owner of Karen Litzy Physical Therapy, host of the podcast Healthy Wealthy & Smart and creator of the Women in Physical Therapy Summit.
In this episode, we discuss:
-How Karen started her career in New York City
-The importance of relationship building to grow your practice
-Why you should say yes to things that align with your values
-A sneak peek at the Strictly Business Mastermind
-And so much more!
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FOTO Outcomes Summit use the discount code LITZY
For more information on Karen:
Dr. Karen Litzy, PT, DPT is a licensed physical therapist, speaker, owner of Karen Litzy Physical Therapy, host of the podcast Healthy Wealthy & Smart and creator of the Women in Physical Therapy Summit.
Through her work as a physical therapist she has helped thousands of people overcome painful conditions, recover from surgery and return to their lives with family and friends.
She has been a featured speaker at national and international events including the International Olympic Committee Injury Prevention Conference in Monaco, the Sri Lanka Sports and Exercise Medicine Conference, and various American Physical Therapy Association conferences.
Karen has been featured in magazines and websites like Redbook, Women’s Running, Martha Stewart Living, Family Circle, Health.com and CafeMom. She has been a guest on several podcasts including Entrepreneur On Fire, Hack the Entrepreneur, and The Healing Pain Podcast. She lives in New York City.
For more information on Jenna:
Jenna Kantor (co-founder) is a bubbly and energetic girl who was born and raised in Petaluma, California. Growing up, she trained and performed ballet throughout the United States. After earning a BA in Dance and Drama at the University of California, Irvine, she worked professionally in musical theatre for 15+ years with tours, regional theatres, & overseas (www.jennakantor.com) until she found herself ready to move onto a new chapter in her life – a career in Physical Therapy. Jenna is currently in her 3rd year at Columbia University’s Physical Therapy Program. She is also a co-founder of the podcast, “Physiotherapy Performance Perspectives,” has an evidence-based monthly youtube series titled “Injury Prevention for Dancers,” is a NY SSIG Co-Founder, NYPTA Student Conclave 2017 Development Team, works with the NYPTA Greater New York Legislative Task Force and is the NYPTA Public Policy Committee Student Liaison. Jenna aspires to be a physical therapist for amateur and professional performers to help ensure long, healthy careers. To learn more, please check out her website: www.jennafkantor.wixsite.com/jkpt
Read the full transcript below:
Jenna Kantor: 00:00 Hello, this is Jenna Kantor interviewing for Healthy, Wealthy and Smart. And I am here with the founder, the original Mama Jamma, Healthy, Wealthy and Smart Karen. And I am going to be a major fan girl. No apologies for this at all because I’ve been wanting to interview Karen for a long time because she is just one of the most inspirational people in physical therapy. And I would say honestly amongst women and physical therapy, the leadership that you take is absolutely incredible and I appreciate you agreeing to coming on. So thank you.
Karen Litzy: Well thank you. And I think this is the first time I’ve been interviewed on my own podcast. I think so unless you count the time Bronnie Thompson was asking me questions and made me cry. But for the most part, this is definitely the first time.
Jenna Kantor: 00:51 Not a meltdown in this one. Well what I’m really excited about as so anybody who is a fan of Karen lets you see all that she does. This is to really learn about her backstory and also how possible it is to get to where she is at now. So one thing we were talking about the other day, Karen, as you were saying, how you moved to New York and you knew no one, I would love for you to expand upon that and how you took those steps to knowing everyone.
Karen Litzy: Well, so when I first moved to New York, I knew my roommate because we had gone to high school together and maybe two other people that we went to high school with. And what I decided to do when I first moved to New York is I couldn’t find a physical therapy job that I felt like it was a good fit.
Karen Litzy: 01:43 And so I ended up working at what was then called Reebok Sports Club. It’s now an Equinox, but it was this sort of a country club in the city. So it was a very high end, very expensive gym. So I started working there as a personal trainer. And because of that environment, there were so many personal trainers, Pilates instructors, nutritionists, not to mention all of the people who go in and out of the gym and all the clients I was lucky enough to work with. And because of that I was able to meet hundreds and hundreds of people. And to this day, those trainers, the people who work, like a computer program there for children, there are nutritionists, pilates instructors. To this day they still refer patients to me. And that was wow, 18 years ago. So, you know, we talk about building relationships and how important that is.
Karen Litzy: 02:41 And I think having that as my first job in the city and being exposed to so many different people, I felt like it really helped me build relationships and friendships at this point that have continued to blossom and grow. And I mean, I just had a patient that was looking for a strength and conditioning coach. And so I said, well, I work with one, a person who is amazing. And he was one of the first people I met at my new job 18 years ago. So it was a bit of like an unconventional path for a physical therapist and it’s just cause I couldn’t find my fit. I couldn’t find that niche that I really wanted and maybe the clinic that I really wanted to work at and now that being said, I knew ahead of before I moved to New York that this gym existed and that it was a high end gym and that I would be exposed to a different kind of clientele.
Karen Litzy: 03:36 I don’t know why I looked that up to begin with, but it was because of that, that gave me the idea to go out on my own and to start seeing patients in their homes and home gyms and homes and offices because all of the personal trainers at this gym, we’re seeing people outside of the gym. If they’re doing that, then why can’t I do that? Why can’t a physical therapist do that? Why do they only have to come to a clinic in a more traditional sense of the word? So it was because of that first job that I met so many people and those relationships continue to grow other relationships and that I got the idea to do my business.
Jenna Kantor: 04:28 That’s incredible. So for you, now that your network has expanded over time, clearly it’s like full bloom. Hello, I look at you almost like the Oprah of physical therapy here. So how do you keep in touch or maintain these relationships with all these people? Like what is your skill for that?
Karen Litzy: So as far as maintaining them within New York City, it’s pretty easy because we’ll get together or you send a quick text. Cause most of these people are my friends and I credit working at that gym and also playing softball in central park that I was able to meet so many people.
Jenna Kantor: You play softball. Hold on, pause, elaborate.
Karen Litzy: So one day I was running in central park and I was like, Ooh, softball. So I went down and I was like, Hey, do you guys allow girls to play? And they were like, no. And I was like, oh, um, okay. And they said, well, what do you do?
Karen Litzy: 05:16 And I said, well, I’m a pitcher. And then they asked if I was good. And I peeked my head around and looked at their pitcher. I’m like, I’m better than the one you have. And so the next week I went for my tryout and then I became their pitcher. And then the following, summer I was recruited to play in a fast pitch like windmill fastpitch league. So I played there for several years and all the guys that I played with on that softball team, are lawyers, and they have referred patients to me. And you know, you just keep in touch. And so I met my two best friends that way in the city and they refer people to me from a business standpoint, but they’re also my friends, you know, and they’re part of my lifeblood of being in the city. And so my best advice if you’re moving to someplace where you don’t know anyone is to get involved in things you like to do.
Karen Litzy: 06:07 So I love playing softball. So that’s what I did, you know, and I loved working out. So I decided to work in a gym as my first job. So instead of kind of pigeon holing yourself into what just physical therapy or just this, just that, like really kind of open yourself up because you never know who you’re gonna meet. So in this city it’s easy to keep in touch, well, I shouldn’t say it’s easy. It’s not easy, but if it’s a priority for you and your life, you make it and you make it a priority and you put in the effort. And so for me, and as you know, Jenna, you keep in touch with a lot of people. You spend your time on networking and on making those relationships. And the best way to do it is to make it a priority.
Karen Litzy: 06:47 And so I may have, you know, my week is sort of chunked out so I have patient care, but then there’s times where I’m like, okay, all I’m going to do is write emails and send messages to people and it’s in my calendar, it’s write emails and send messages to people just so that you’re still in there hemisphere.
Jenna Kantor: You know, it’s keeping those relationships. Otherwise it becomes that long lost relationship. Even if when you hang out with them again you could just act like no time has passed. It’s still something that needs to be rekindled. So it avoids that.
Karen Litzy: And it’s putting in the effort. Like a good friend of mine, his name is Dr. Jordan Metzl who’s a physician in New York and he does free workout classes every month. And so I try and make it a point, okay, I’m going to go to one of his classes even though I can’t walk for two or three days because my legs are so sore afterwards. But I make it a point because he’s my friend and I want to support him and I think what he’s doing is important.
Jenna Kantor: 07:37 I love that. I’m sure I’ve probably seen pictures of you after the workout going, just finished the workout with Metzl right now. I love that. And you actually are tapping upon something that I know we are 100% agree upon is really supporting what other people are doing. Showing up for what they do is a real big part of the networking and how your life and your career has truly grown.
Karen Litzy: Yeah. It’s just being supportive of people that you believe in. So going to something like the CSM where there’s 16-17,000 people here, like there are people that I want to make it a point that I at least say hello and that I have a conversation with, even if it’s just five minutes, you know, because it’s important to me and I hope it’s important to them, but I know that it’s important to me because I want to show up for them and I want to support them.
Karen Litzy: 08:31 And so that’s just what you do if you want to keep your relationships going. And as far as keeping relations with international colleagues, it could just be a quick, a quick note on Twitter or a quick email or hey, I thought about you the other day because I really want to introduce you to this person because I think you guys should at least know each other cause you’re doing the same research or you know, I met a colleague in the Netherlands and he has since referred patients to me in New York and he’s a physio in London, but you just keep in touch with people and you do good work. And I think that’s the best way to keep your relationships going. And it doesn’t have to be every day, right? It could be consistent.
Karen Litzy: 09:24 It takes five minutes. A lot of times I do this when I’m on the bus cause I’m going from patient to patient. So what else am I supposed to do on the bus? You know, so that’s sometime when I’d be like, okay, I’m going to make sure that I reach out to so and so in Australia or to this person in Pennsylvania or to this and that’s a good time. So I’m lucky in that sense that I have like random downtime. Chunks during my week and you just, if you think about someone, just let them know.
Jenna Kantor: Yeah, it takes seconds. It takes seconds. Okay. So you have your hands on many things which I love about you. So you have this podcast, which is amazing and soaring and now you also have a team working for you with this podcast.
Jenna Kantor: 10:07 You have your own practice, you have the speaking course. What am I missing? You have a course coming up that’s going to be helping practitioners, which is amazing. You’re the nominating committee for the private practice section? Am I missing anything? I want to make sure we tap and tap everything. Okay. So you’re doing all these things now, did they all come about all at once for you to achieve it? Or did some of them overlap as you were developing them? Oh, and you’re working to become a paid speaker. I mean these are a lot of fantastic things, all a hundred percent possible to achieve in a life, but for you achieving each and every one, have some of them overlapped in the process of growing? I would love to hear that journey.
Karen Litzy: 10:56 Yes. And I also think that one allows for the next and allows for the next. So one event allows for the next event and for the next and for the next or one experience allows for the next. So for instance, starting the podcast many years ago, I took a couple of years off to go back to get my DPT, but starting the podcast had led to credibility and has led to visibility and in maybe some vulnerability on my part. So when people can see that you’re being credible and you’re being authentic and you’re putting yourself out there, they’re drawn to that. And so from that, I was invited to be on a proposal to CSM and then that got me public speaking a little bit. And then maybe from that someone sees you, it’s like, hey, you know something, I really like this. We should try this.
Karen Litzy: 11:50 And so I kept saying yes, yes, yes, yes. And to say as a piece of advice, say yes to everything until you can say no, terrible advice. I don’t know. It was terrible advice. Awful. So what I started to do, cause I was saying yes, everything and it is overwhelming and you get burnt out and you start to cry and then you don’t feel like you have a personal life. And I want a personal life as well. So now what I’ve started to do is say yes to things that align with your values. Say Yes to things that in your gut it’s a hell yes. Because when you start saying yes to things that are like, I guess I should do it, it’s a no, like if you’re saying I guess I should do it, you don’t want to be shoulding things.
Karen Litzy: 12:30 It’s like, yes, I want to do this. Not, yeah, I guess I should do it. And so I think having that in my mind has been able to narrow my focus a little bit more. So it sounds like I’m doing a lot, but it’s all inter related.
Jenna Kantor: It’s connected. And I even left out that you have the annual women in PT Summit.
Karen Litzy: But again, that’s all connected, right? So I think it started with the podcast and then doing a little bit of speaking and then I really started to enjoy speaking more and more. And because of that I have made that a priority. And for me each year I pick a word that I like to kind of follow my year and to base decisions on and things like that. And so this year it’s courage. And so one of the things that I really wanted to have the courage to do was to do more public speaking and to put out a course to help physical therapists create their own private practice and occupational therapists create their private practice.
Karen Litzy: 13:27 And these for me, takes a lot of courage and planning and things like that. But if you, like I said, I sort of planned my week in little chunks. So if you can do that, you can get everything done. You just have to put your mind to it. And I also as just a FYI on how I manage my time is that I kind of use pomodoros. So a Pomodoro is a concept that’s a 25 minute work block. So I’ll set a timer for 25 minutes. I turn everything else off. Sometimes I’ll put theta wave music on in the background or binaural beat music because that music is supposed to help increase theta wave, excitability in your brain, which is supposed to have, this is all very, you know, but it’s supposed to help you be able to block out distractions and help you focus and things like that.
Karen Litzy: 14:17 It’s the kind of music you hear when you’re at the spa. And so I will do that and block everything else out. And it’s amazing how much you can get done in 25 minutes. Like so if you are full of distractions, yeah, it’s going to take you forever. But if you can really focus for 25 minutes, then you can write that blog post in 25 minutes instead of screwing around for three hours. You know what I mean? And if emails come in, like I’m not the president of the United States, like it’s not that important. It’s just not. I think we’re in a world now where everything has to happenmnow. Now, now, now, now. Whereas I mean, I can say, I mean I started my podcast in 2012 and then took a couple of years off.
Karen Litzy: 15:03 It’s 2019 so it’s not like it’s an overnight success. You know, I started speaking, the first CSM I spoke, it was in Indianapolis, which was, I don’t even know how many years ago. So again, this is just been years of work and years of working on your reputation and years of working on myself in order to get to these points. Nothing is an overnight success because you’re always laying foundations and groundworks that can take months or years. So I think it’s really important for people to understand that.
Jenna Kantor: And habits, habits are a big thing too, because I’m sure it took you a bit to even make this, this 25 minute habit.
Karen Litzy: Oh my God. Yeah, because I love to be distracted. Squirrel. I’d be like, what? I love to be distracted. But it’s true. So to be able to do that and calm my mind down to focus on one thing took practice, but just like we tell our patients with like practice your exercises, if you practice these methods, you become better at the methods. It’s the same thing.
Jenna Kantor: 16:02 Yeah. I definitely can relate with that. So now for you, what is your next, oh my gosh. I can’t wait for you to listen back to this podcast in like a couple of years and be like, what is your next, cause you have, you have things coming up and maybe those will be your next you would want to discuss, but I would love for you to share that.
Karen Litzy: My probably biggest next is the soonest are the quickest next, let’s put it that way. The quickest next would be this course that I’m developing for physical therapists and occupational therapists called Strictly Business Mastermind. And it’s to help them create their own cash PT or hybrid or if you already have a practice and you’re trying to transition out into a cash based practice.
Karen Litzy: 16:52 So it’s really for those two groups of people. And I’m really excited about that and hopefully we’ll have that solidified in the next couple of weeks and put that out there.
Jenna Kantor: That’s going to be incredible. And honestly to speak to the fact that we don’t have a woman and physical therapist yet leading something like this and we need to, it’s for anyone. You need to see somebody who you can even visually identify with. So on top of the content that you’re going to be providing, which is going to be off the charts, I’m grateful that you are filling a void that needs to be filled in.
Karen Litzy: And I think it’s important to know that I’m not teaching this on my own because I don’t have the answers to everything. I can’t do everything. It’s just physically impossible and mentally impossible.
Karen Litzy: 17:36 Like I can’t do it. So I’m lucky to have a lawyer involved. I’m lucky to have an investment advisor involved. And someone who’s an expert at SEO and Michelle Collie who’s an amazing colleague with like 5,000, no, not really, but like a whole bunch of clinics in the Rhode Island area because these are people who quite frankly are doing things better than I am. And so to be able to share their knowledge with people, I think it’s going to be a little bit unique in that space. Because I know I can’t do it on my own. And so I asked for help.
Jenna Kantor: And it’s okay to ask for help. And honestly, I definitely wouldn’t use the Hashtag better together right now for this because it really is, as much as you are taking the lead on it, it is so good to get to work with other people and everybody benefits from it.
Karen Litzy: 18:26 Of course. Of course. I just feel like that’s important for people to understand that you can’t do any of this alone. And that if, if you do, you’ll burn out, but if you have the wherewithal to find out, well, what are your weaknesses? Like, what are you good at? What are you not so good at? What do you love? What will someone pay you for? And if you can fill that out and kind of connect the dots, then you’ll know what you’re good at and then what you’re not good at. Just find someone else who is. Because you’re doing a disservice to yourself and you’re just doing a disservice to people who are spending their money and their time to learn from you. So it’s all about respecting the audience. And so what I really want to do is respect the audience and give them the best user experience that they can get and meet those expectations. And I’m my harshest critic.
Jenna Kantor: So I think everyone is, I think everyone is their harshest critic. Well, thank you so much for coming onto your own podcast to just share this. I love how you’re just so authentic and insightful and just so true to your own story. And I think a lot of people just appreciate that about you and I definitely do. So thank you.
Karen Litzy: 19:52 Thanks for having me on.
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