Rising Star: Gail Bennell’s How a rural Speech Pathologist used video to become an industry leader

gailbennellWe are very proud to feature our Wonderful Web Radio Rising Star interview. In this segment, we speak with Gail Bennell. Gail is a Speech Pathologist who coaches parents of children with disabilities on Skype, so their kids can learn to communicate and reach their full potential. She also helps health professionals thriving build thriving private practices so they too can help their clients reach their full potential.

 

Transcript of the Interview

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Announcement: Welcome to Rising Stars Radio where we share the stories of ordinary people taking action to create extraordinary changes in their businesses. They are the true rising stars to watch. So get ready to take notes for our no-fluff cutting to the chase twenty-minute interview.

Janet: Hello and welcome everybody. Janet Beckers is here with Rising Stars Radio. My wonderful guest today is one of the most favorite people in our community, Gail Bennell. Now Gail has been one of the wonderful Web community for years now. She’s been part of many of our programs. The thing that I particularly like about Gail is, as you’ll find we start to do our interview, she’s a person that not only takes action … She doesn’t just get her programs and go get on to that.

She actually methodically, step-by-step takes action, but really lovely, she always comes into our private Facebook group and shares her progress and is very, very generous with the other people who are in the group in sharing tips on things that she learned through the process to make it easier for other people. She’s really stepped up as a natural leader within our own community, so I’m very, very honored to be able to introduce her to you today. Hello Gail. It’s wonderful to welcome you here.

Gail: Thank you, Janet. It’s great to be here.

Janet: Yeah. Now, to get started, would you mind sharing with people, who it is that you help and how it is that you do that? For people who are listening, if you think I’m diving in straightaway, it’s because, Gail, my intention is to try to give you the maximum value today we can to help you to build your business. We’d like to do that in about 20 minutes or less, so we’re just going to cut straight to the chase. Tell us Gail, who it is that you help and how is it that you do that?

Gail: I’m a Speech Pathologist and I have a special interest in working with people with disabilities, in particular children who can’t communicate. I have been doing that in the state based government services and in not-for-profit organizations. I’ve moved recently into private practice, so that I can help people in new and different ways. I work with people, parents and children with disabilities, and I have a telepractice, which means that I see people all over Australia and sometimes even the world.

I meet with them on Skype and help them to implement strategies that will help their children learn to communicate.

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Janet: So, this telepractice idea, is that common in your industry? Is that something that everybody does?

Gail: No. No, it’s quite new and I think only in the last few years has Skype Internet Services really given us the space and the broadband to have good conversations over it. It’s really and emerging area of practice.

Janet: Mm-hmm

I like how you were saying that you actually found out it’s quite of a need, that that was actually fitting a need that your clients had? That they could get your help remotely without actually having to come in to where you were working?

Gail: Yeah. It doesn’t really matter where people live. If you have to pack up your kids and get in the car and drive to a clinic and then you spend the time and then get home, it takes out a really big chunk of the day. That’s if you live relatively close to where the person you’re visiting or the appointment is. A lot of my clients, they live out of big towns and they have to drive for an hour or two or sometimes even more, just to come and see the professionals that they need. By doing that every week or every couple of weeks is a really huge chunk of time.

When we do it on Skype, we just open up the computer, hit go and we’re away and talking. It really doesn’t need to take up a huge amount of time, that previously this would have.

Janet: I can just imagine, if you have any child that has some kind of disability, getting things done would just take so much longer. When you’ve got a child … You know, if you’ve got a child that can communicate to you quickly about why it is that they haven’t got in the car yet … Yeah, with a child that has trouble communicating, just things, everything would be so much harder, so having that service, I can imagine, would be incredibly appreciated.

Now, I’m just thinking, the other side of that, because I’ve known Gail for awhile, I’ve known that she’s moved in the last year or couple of years, from where you were in Tassie. I know, too actually, because I came and visited you when I was down there bush walking on the Overland Track. You gave me some lovely hospitality. So it allows you to be quite flexible where you’re working, I imagine, as well with that business model.

Gail: Yeah, absolutely. I’ve actually moved. I started my career … I studied in Queensland, but moved to Bowral, a small town in New South Wales and then to Queanbeyan and I saw clients all through regional New South Wales down to the perimeter of Victoria. Then I had moved. I moved to Tasmania and I felt just so bad, because often when I first met people, particularly in these rural areas, the number one question they asked me, before they asked anything else was, “So how long are you staying for?”

The experience was that Speech Pathologists and other health professionals would come, stay for a year or so and then they’d get a job back in the city and move on. I felt absolutely terrible when I had to be that Speech Pathologist that did move somewhere else and leave them behind, knowing that there may be a gap. There may not be another Speech pathologist immediately available to work. People would just have this inconsistent service when their children needed a lot of support learning to communicate.

As I moved, I moved to Tasmania, and then I moved to a smaller area in Tasmania. I had to leave people behind all the time, not knowing what would happen behind me. By starting up a telepractice where I can move and my clients can move, it doesn’t matter. We can still connect and we can still do the same work that we’ve been doing in quite the same way. I can support people no matter where they are and no matter where they are, so the service is a lot more consistent for people. So long as we’ve got an Internet connection, we can connect.

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Janet: Yeah, brilliant and you’ve got the flexibility. You can move wherever you want. I mean, that’s the beauty of being able to build a business in a way that can be totally virtual, which is a big part about what I teach through my programs. How do you build up that business so that you’ve got the freedom to be able to make decisions about where you want to live and what kind of lifestyle that you want to have.

That probably moves us over to my next question, is our connection. How do we know each other? Would you mind sharing with people, which of the programs of mine that you’ve studied and taken action on?

Gail: I’ve done a few of your programs, Janet. I think I first started with the Wonderful Web Women Gold Program, which is a monthly module that were released each month. I started to get to know what Janet did and took some action on some of the things as they applied. I started finding that I was learning a lot more about business. As a Speech Pathologist, I’m not trained at University in Business. I’m trained in how to be a Speech Pathologist. I started learning all these amazing things.

Then, I think the Me TV program was released and I thought, wow, this is a brilliant way of reaching more people in more places. Giving them a few tips that they can use instantly to help their children learn to communicate, but also as a way of reaching them and letting them know that I am here and I can communicate with them in different ways. People expect to see a Speech Pathologist in clinic, in a particular area, but I can be borderless, if you like.

As I started to do that and work through that, I then found that there were just so many gaps in what I knew. The work that I’ve done in learning how to be in business and in private practice … There were so many gaps. I was spending so much time just researching, “How do I do that thing? What program do I use? What’s that thing that makes that on my website do this thing?” Just all these little questions that I had, that I’d spend a huge amount of time trying to figure it out on my own and making huge mistakes.

It was just wasting so much time that I decided to invest in the Shine Program, so that I could just get so much more intense help and support. I could ask questions when I needed and get the answer without having to take a week or a month to figure it out on my own.

Janet: So yeah, you’ve actually gone through quite a few of the different programs. I quite love that the Me TV program is very good at helping you to be able to get your message out there and you get results very, very quickly. That then … The next step is, “Well, what am I going to do now? What am I going to do with these people. How do I even get clear on what kind of products I’m going to give them?” It’s fantastic that you’ve actually taken those next steps. As I’ve said at the very beginning, I just love that Gail has actually …

I can tell that she’s actually implementing everything that’s she’s been doing through the Shine Online Program, because she shares with people her actions as she’s going. That would be a good thing, so if we could explore a little bit further now about some of the things that you implemented that you learned and the results that you got from those. You mentioned studying the Me TV program first. Would you mind sharing with people, how did you actually implement that into your business and what’s the results been for you?

Gail: I have to so first up that I was absolutely terrified of putting myself out there on video. I tried to do some videos before and I found it absolutely terrible. I was stilted. I could barely speak to camera or speak to … Not even on camera, speak behind a screen tarp. It wasn’t something that came particularly easy for me, despite what it might look like when you see my videos now. I was absolutely terrified. The one thing that I … I think was the first one.

No one’s ever going to see these actually, hopefully, because I thought it was so terrible, but I thought if I put it out there, I’m going to get the confidence that it’s okay and I can do the next one. It’ll be better and the one after that will be a bit better as well and I’ll eventually get to something that people will actually want to see and I’ll want to share.

As well though doing that, it helped to really get to know who my clients are, because what I do every time I do anything now in my work, when I’m seeing people, is I ask myself the question, “How could I share this with more people? How could I make this even bigger than what it is, so people know what Speech Pathologist’s do or how they can help their children? What it is that they need next?” I thought I knew who my clients were when I started. Through the process of creating films for my clients and the people who responded to me and the people that I’m working with in my everyday practice, is “How can I get to know them even better and really listen to them? How can I speak to what it is that they really want?”

Just the process of starting something imperfectly and continuing and just making it a little bit better each time, has really been so helpful for me to get to know my clients, so that I can help them better.

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Janet: You’re right. It sounds … Are you having to … The thing with the Me TV is it’s every single week and they’re very, very short messages, aren’t they? They’re only a few minutes, so to be able to clearly give somebody a tip, in only three minutes and at the same time, phrase it in a way so they understand why it’s important, means that you can’t be for long. You’ve actually, in order to be able to do those three minute tips, you have to get clear on who it is that you’re helping and what’s going to help them. The actual process of doing it means that you really do get to refine your message every single time that you do it.

Gail: And become a better communicator as well. Throughout everything I do now, I try and break it down so that I know the person I’m talking to, understand what my message is as quickly as possible.

Janet: That’s brilliant. Tell me some of the things that have resulted from you having you started your SpeechyTV?

Gail: I’ve managed to meet a lot of new clients, a lot of health professionals as well, who want to know more about how they can help people with disabilities, and children that can’t communicate. So I’ve become surprisingly a little bit of a leader in the area that people now turn to me, and refer clients to me because they know that this is the work that I do. I’ve also been invited to write articles for industry magazines so I’ve written articles for one of our industries magazine on SpeechyTV and how I’ve done it. Next month I’m presenting it as a poster at their biannual conference. It’s something that people really want to know about.

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Janet: Excellent. The interesting thing there by you standing up with your peers seeing you as the leader in something that is very very niched for a speech pathologist. Non verbal children, there’s so many things you could work on. I love how you’ve said it means that they have referred clients to you. You’ve been seen as the specialist because you have niched, and you’ve put yourself out there with those tips. It’s interesting that you’re saying that people in your industry are wanting to learn more about basically the marketing method that you’ve been using, your SpeechyTV. Has there been any other things that have come as a result of that? With them wanting to learn from you about the way you’re doing things?

Gail: I get asked a lot of questions about how to get started and how to overcome the fear of putting themselves out there. Also, the concerns about being visible on the internet as well. That’s something that’s quite scary for a lot of people that people can follow me or something. I hope people follow me. Come follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

I think it’s a really great … it’s just opened opened up so many ways of networking with other professionals and with my clients as well. Because of my work with SpeechyTV, people talk to me on Facebook and Twitter and ask for my thoughts on what they might be able to do to help their clients who might have disabilities or communication impairment to be able to do things better. I feel like I’m reaching out to help so many more people than I’d be able to do as an individual clinician, that I can help so many more people by sharing my knowledge in this way.

Janet: And so it seems now you’re target market is very much parents of children with nonverbal children. Who’ve got communication problems. But I can see now that you’re business could evolve to have a second stream which is other health professionals who are looking on at how do you I market myself in the modern age? And seeing you as that leader. I can imagine it won’t be longer before they’ll be wanting to pay you for your advice and mentorship rather than at the moment you being generous by sharing it.

Gail: Yeah. I see this as a real emerging area for me. People are asking me for my advice. With some of the changes to the disability services industry with the national disability insurance scheme which is changing the way services are provided, meaning there is a lot more opportunities for people to go into private practice and specifically work with people who do have a disability. As health professionals we’re just absolutely not trained and skilled necessarily in being in business and the marketing of that and helping people, and differentiating from the other professionals that are out there doing similar work, but slightly different because we all have our own specializations and ways that we have focused our interests.

It’s something that I really think that I can help so many more people by putting other health professionals and speech pathologists to learn these skills to help people who have communication difficulties to be able to communicate.

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Janet: Yeah. Brilliant. Brilliant.

Okay. So we’ve talked about you using SpeechyTv. We’re also really talked about the clarity that having gone through the process of running SpeechyTv that you’ve been able to get very very clear on your avatar, on your profitable avatar. That that’s actually been able to direct your business quite a lot.

We’ve also been talking about how the business model you have chosen means that you have the flexibility to be able to move yourself, but at the same time you’re actually doing … providing a unique service that is so needed for your clients. In that they can work with you remotely. I’m curious about what comes next? With the way that you’re going to be using what you’ve been doing through the Shine program. What kind of vision you can see that you would be doing as you become more popular you’ll only be able to work with so many people. That’s the problem we all get isn’t it? I’m curious about what you’re seeing as happening next?

Gail: I guess what we were talking about before Janet, that being able to support more speech pathologists and health professionals. While I work one on one with my clients, there are only so few people I can help to achieve the change in their lives that they’re looking for. But, by building a community of speech pathologists and health professionals with special interest in working with people with disabilities I can really achieve so much more by helping them to have the skills. Rather than focusing on my expertise and working with the small numbers of people that I can. Really looking to build a community of innovative leaders in working with people with disabilities, and making the world a really better place.

Janet: Yeah. Yeah. Now one other thing that I would like to be able to talk about, is before we got onto the call you mentioned about mastermind groups that you’ve been able to create. I think this is another really important action step that you have taken. This is actually a module that we have within the Shine Online program, how do you create a mastermind group? And then how do you structure it so it actually works as a mastermind group rather than a social group. This is something that I think you’ve done exceptionally well at.

Would you mind sharing with people a few tips on what is a mastermind group and the results that you’ve been able to have with that?

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Gail: Yeah. Mastermind groups have been really important to me, and mastermind groups and accountability buddies. In that it can feel as though you’re so much on your own when you’re working at home and you’re in your office. Everyone else is at work doing their jobs. No one really understands what it is I’ve been trying to achieve over the last few years. But by connecting with people I have a brilliant accountability buddy who I talk to most weeks. We just bounce ideas off of each other.

I’ve been really fortunate to be involved now in two mastermind groups. One came to a natural end 12 months ago. Just recently I’ve set up another one where people just started contacting me completely out of the blue. Offering me support and help and asking me if we could stay in touch. I actually felt really overwhelmed by the number of people that were contacting me and thinking I really want to help you and I want your help because they had really valuable insights to offer me. I just had no time to be able to support them or to receive their support. I realized that all these people contacting me were actually quite similar in where they were in their businesses as well. So I invited everyone to come together as a mastermind group where we’d meet every 4-5 weeks and work on our businesses together and get ideas and keep each other accountable.

For instance, one of my accountability ones today is actually to record some more SpeechyTv episodes today. It’s not going to happen but I’m going to post and let them know that I’ve actually scheduled some time on Wednesday to make it happen. That might not have happened otherwise. I might have let it slide another week or two.

Janet: Right.

Gail: Just the power of knowing that people are … I’ve got it written down and I have a group of people that will be asking me next time we meet. What have you done? And why haven’t you done what you said you would do? It’s so much easier to commit to getting things done.

Janet: Absolutely. This is probably one of the things I’m most passionate about. It’s why the Shine online program have got that whole module on how to do that. The main reason why I started our private Facebook group was to give people an opportunity to get to meet other people going through the programs and create those relationships. Because, in both of those mastermind groups, the majority of the people you’ve actually met through the private Facebook group haven’t you? You were telling me the names of the people who were in there, they’re all part of our private Facebook group.

Gail: Yeah it’s been a really great place to meet people. I often use your Facebook group as a way of motivating myself and keeping myself accountable. I have made progress. I have done the things I do because I’m absolutely terrible at keeping my own goals and guidelines.

My husband and I were just talking. It’s like “you should meet with yourself every morning”.
Yeah I have that on my calendar and I’ve ignored it for the last two months. I put them in my calendar. But it just isn’t motivating enough for me to keep myself accountable. Whereas when I know somebody else is out there reading what I’ve done or said I would do. I feel like I have to do it. That’s the thing that really makes me do things and keep going.

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Janet: Yeah. That’s brilliant. So we’re getting to the end of our time now. I’d really like to be able to finish our calls with some action steps for people. Even if there’s just one or two important things for people to be able to keep in mind when they’re leaving today and go to take action on their own business.

So can you share 1 or 2 things in summary that you think are important for people to be able to focus on?

Gail: Yeah absolutely. I think don’t wait until you think it’s perfect because it never will be. You’ll never quite know what you’re clients or customers really want until you actually put it out there and ask them. You might get it wrong and that’s okay, because you’re then in the position to know which steps to take to make it even better.

Learn as you go. So you make a mistake and you go and find some more answers and apply those.

Absolutely get support along the way. Whether that’s finding an accountability buddy that’s on the steps as you or building a mastermind group or finding a group of people that are on the same path as you that know what it is you’re trying to achieve and understand that. That you can share your wins and some of you failures as well, because not everything goes to plan. Get that support to make that easier so you’re not the only person that’s in the same spot as you are, feeling like you’re struggling. That’s how you really get those big momentums to keep on going and building what you’re doing.

Janet: That’s brilliant. They’re really good tips. Both of those tips I love. That one of don’t wait for everything to be perfect before you get started. I’m sure that there will be a lot of people listening today that are thinking I’m not quite ready, or I’ve just got to get this better or the websites not quite ready enough to start putting my message out there. Or I haven’t lost that last 10kg before I’ll go in front of a video.

All those sorts of things that we keep on putting off, and putting off and putting off. That is such a good tip about just get started. Now, people who are listening, I would love to be able to hear from you. As you can see, Gail. You can see why I love her, she’s just really professional in the way she approaches the business, but also just really open to enjoying the journey as she’s going. Enjoying what she’s learning and sharing that with others.

I would love it if you could share with us as well, if you’re hear listening to this podcast or reading the transcript on our website which is risingstarsradioshow. I’d love you to leave a comment down below. Leave a comment for Gail either to tell how much she rocks, or ask some questions. Share some resources yourself whatever it is. That would be wonderful if you could share those. You’ll also find links to Gail’s website. Can you just share your URL for us Gail?

Gail: It’s www.raisingnonverbalchildren.com

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Janet: Excellent. Raisingnonverbalchildren.com. So we’ll put links to that over in our transcript so you can go over there. But also if you’re listening to this over on iTunes, I really do recommend that you go and check out Gail. See what she’s doing, have a look at some of her TV shows and maybe watch some of the first ones and some of the later ones and watch an evolution. Give her some feedback because it’s incredibly rewarding for us when we take the time to share with you to be able to hear back from you as well.

Any last words Gail before we go?

Gail: Just to all the listeners, if you’ve got plans to do something in business just go and take that first step. Figure out what it is today and do it this week. The first teeny tiny little babysteps is the first thing you have to do when you want to climb a mountain. You have to take the first step. Just go and do it.

Janet: Excellent. That’s such a great way to finish. Thank you so much for you time Gail, I’ve really enjoyed talking to you. Thank you so much everybody, dear listeners, for being with us. I’d love to hear of any action steps that you take from today. That’s incredibly rewarding. Go get them! Go and take some action today! Bye.

Gail: Bye.

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Comments

  1. Hi Janet and Gail!

    Another great interview. Gsil is spot on about taking action and releasing attachment to perfection. So many people hold back because of this. My motyo is imperfect action trumps perfect inaction.

    Cheers
    Ayesha
    Ayesha´s last blog post ..Virtual Birthday Party

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