Dr. Karen Jacobson, Aligned Leadership Academy
Just because your business is thriving doesn’t mean it’s perfect for you. That’s one thing Dr. Karen Jacobson realized as she started to transition from her thriving chiropractic practice to something new. One of the hardest parts of that process was leaving the safety of what is known, for the adventure of what is unknown, and answering the question many entrepreneurs struggle with: When do I take the leap?
Episode 35 – Dr. Karen Jacobson, Aligned Leadership Academy
[00:00:55] Sanjay Parekh: Since 2012, Dr. Karen Jacobson has served as the CEO of Aligned Leadership Academy. But before that, Dr. Jacobson accumulated a few other titles: Israeli military commander, competitive ballroom dancer, and chiropractor. Her varied experiences all contribute to how she runs her coaching business today. Here today to talk about her business, prioritizing wellness, and the power of mindset… is Dr. Karen Jacobson.
Dr. Jacobson, welcome to the show.
[00:01:24] Dr. Karen Jacobson: Well, thank you for having me here.
[00:01:26] Sanjay Parekh: So, first up, look, you've got an incredible background. You've done a bunch of things, probably, more things than one person does in a lifetime, and you've been in a bunch of different industries. I'd love for you to give us a little bit about your background and, how you got to where you were and, how you got to where you are now.
[00:01:44] Dr. Karen Jacobson: Oh, that's a load. Let's go on the short version. And really the essence of what I focus on, whether it was when I had my chiropractic practice, or whether with my consulting and leadership platform today is about bringing out the best in people. It's all about creating high performance.
So as a chiropractor, I used to use neuroscience and wellness as well as really enhancing human potential and working on mostly the physical side where I got the, you know, the emotional, mental, and involved at a certain point when I shifted away from chiropractic into business consulting, it was more about working above the neck, working with people's mindset, with people's behavior and really thought process conscious and subconscious to bring out the best in them.
So, I started off, I had a practice for 24 years and somewhere around 2011, 2012, I added a second business, which was the consulting and at the time some coaching as well. And that was like my exit strategy to be able to leave. And make a career shift at the time.
[00:03:08] Sanjay Parekh: So, Okay. So, that's interesting. So, you had your own practice. So, were you the founder of that chiropractic practice that you were doing?
[00:03:18] Dr. Karen Jacobson: Yes, yes. I started my first chiropractic practice in 1992 back on the East coast in New York. And I ran that practice for about seven years. At the time, like my seventh year, I think in practice, I was I was actually in a head on collision and that put me on disability for close to a year.
So, with that, looking at how do I turn that around and create an opportunity, I decided to relocate. And I moved from the east coast to the southwest. I'm currently in, Scottsdale, Arizona. So, I came out here and pretty much started all over. So, I started a practice here back in, 98 and built that practice up and, was very involved here in the community, in wellness and in a lot of family care.
And at a certain point, like I said, around 2012, and it was actually when the shift came and that urge came when I was involved with a local television show, which was called HealthyU as in U for university TV. And during that time, it put me back on stage in front of people and, you know, that's always been one of my passions.
So that's kind of around the time I created that shift.
[00:04:47] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah. Well, I'm glad to know that you've recovered from that accident. So, long ago and, and hopefully no lingering effects from it. but it's interesting that you use that as kind of the, the transition point to, to move. So, you continued doing a practice there. What point in that practice was it the realization for you of like, I want to do something different? Like, what caused you to take that shift? Because being a chiropractor, there was a lot of education behind that, and you're basically saying like, Yeah, you know what, I'm going to just forego that education and that time that I spent and move on to something.
[00:05:27] Dr. Karen Jacobson: And the interesting point in it, you know, and that question has been asked before Sanjay, and whether I left because I wanted to leave chiropractic. It wasn't about leaving chiropractic, it was about where I was going and as I mentioned, when I was involved with the television show for about a year and a half, and a lot of what we did at the time was working with people both on the physical level and on the mindset and really with other skill sets.
And I've always had the passion to, to work with people's mindset and, and help them really be the like, you know, like the Army Reserve, Be the best that you can be. And. It was more of a calling to make that shift, to get in front of audiences and have a bigger impact as opposed to some of the one-on-one impact that I might have had when I'm adjusting people.
And not just on the wellness arena, but as I said, really more in leadership and communication, which to me, those aspects are the essence of our health and wellbeing.
[00:06:41] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah. So, okay. This is interesting. So, you are the founder, the owner of this practice and is it just you as a chiropractor in this practice or are there other folks as well?
[00:06:57] Dr. Karen Jacobson: Yeah, I had a family practice that I had in the community for a number of years. And when we actually, again, that television show, and that was like really another pivotal time. It was around the time of the market crash. So, there were a lot of moving parts that were happening at the time.
But when we did the show and I started working with individuals, more on mindset and, personal development and, really using some of the skills that I had. I ended up going and getting my NLP certification, So, as an NLP coach and doing timeline therapy, doing hypnotherapy, and that's when I built the Zen room within my office. So, previous to that, I used to have either a naturopath or a massage therapist that would rent for me. I took the room back and I offered more to my clientele, to my patients and the community. And out of that, that started growing for me. And I looked at that and I was like, you know what? This is where I want to go.
[00:08:13] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah. So, it was a side hustle, but you were doing it really as a part of your main hustle of the business because you kind of carved out. So, how was that in terms of balancing the time between the two? Were you just kind of leaving it open and as people booked, that was basically your time, and then as you saw that shift happening that this was more interesting?
It was becoming bigger. That's when you decided like, hey, let's get rid of the chiropractic part of it and go all.
[00:08:39] Dr. Karen Jacobson: So, I, you know, in all honesty, when it came even to chiropractic, as much as I went ahead and built a practice after the car accident, you know, I've got, two plates, a dozen screws in my arm.
Honestly, physically, as much as I built the practice and I built it to, a very nice level, even beyond the previous practice that I had in New York, it was becoming more challenging. And when I started, what you would call, the side hustle, which was just started off as an additional service, I was very clear in dividing them. The business had a separate name, had separate bank accounts. It literally was within the same office. I had two businesses and I allowed it to develop organically you know, if I had patients that would come in and wanted to do some individual work, some coaching, some timeline therapy, then I would put them on a program.
If I had people from the outside that wanted coaching but did not necessarily opt for the chiropractic care I would do that. And so, I divided my time and mostly I had my regular practice days and on some of the off hours, I would run the second business and do the coaching. And I started off originally with individual coaching, with more personal development.
And, at a certain point as that started growing, the desire to really step up. Was growing within me, and that's when I had to weigh and it wasn't an easy choice, it was not like, hey, I could just, you know, toss, chiropractic, and go. Because it is a lifestyle for me.
It is something that to this day, I still embrace, I will send anyone to a chiropractor. But it became a point where when I wanted to reach a bigger audience, I knew my direction had to change.
[00:11:00] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah. Do you miss being a chiropractor? Or I'm assuming you're not, unless for like family and friends, you're not doing anything.
[00:11:09] Dr. Karen Jacobson: I miss aspects of it. You know, I also left at a time when they were making a lot of changes. I had started where honestly, we had a lot more freedom to practice wellness and when I left, it was when we started encountering a lot more red tape and a lot more control in how we are allowed to practice.
[00:11:42] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah. So, it's interesting, like there's not a lot of people I think that have already a good small business like you did, and then start a side hustle and then transition into that. So, I'm wondering, was this your first, like starting these practices, the one in New York and then the one in Arizona, was that the first time you'd done anything entrepreneurial? Or was there anything when you were younger or were there examples within the family and have you like seen this or is this really kind of the first time? I mean, not the first time now it's been three times.
[00:12:16] Dr. Karen Jacobson: Well, I started off at about 11, I started my babysitting empire. So, when I grew up in Israel, I had, started off as a mother's helper, where when my neighbor was home with her young child, she wanted to do things. So,I would come and watch the kid. And word got. And even though there were other kids, that were around my age that were babysitter able, I had regular clients. I by 14, pretty much owned the apartment building that we that we lived in.
[00:12:54] Sanjay Parekh: It's good to be a monopolist.
[00:12:56] Dr. Karen Jacobson: Yes, yes. And I was making, you know, by 14, I was making my own money and, you know, putting it in the bank. I remember by 16 we got a power account, and I did other things as well. I also taught, at some point I taught, English because for the kids there, it was a second language, it was a primary language for me. So, I did some tutoring and English tutoring and math tutoring, some giving guitar lessons.
So, I, was already involved in that. And, I've always been, I've always enjoyed being my own boss. You know, I think that was also when I was in the service in Israel. I was in the Israeli Defense force, and you know, when I look at some of the positions that I had originally, it was answering to people and working and being, quote unquote like an employee and that didn't work for me. Yeah.
[00:14:05] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah. I was going to ask that didn't, well, because that's a really tough thing for somebody that is entrepreneurial minded, to be in an organization where there's really a lot of rigid rules, right? The military doesn't really want you doing things on your own and in your own way. And so, what was that experience like? I mean, you spent a couple of years there, you know, like how did you get through that? I imagine for me it would be very tough.
[00:14:32] Dr. Karen Jacobson: I had several different positions that I held, and I was in different units. One of the units I was involved with was, I was in military intelligence and being part of military intelligence, I had the opportunity to work on some projects.
So, I worked as, I actually worked as a secretary of a project or the kind of like the executive assistant, would you say? Of a project that worked on releasing POWs from a camp up in Lebanon, and it was with civilians. So, I had a group of civilians and there was one guy in charge, and I was his right hand person.
And so, I had a lot of, there was a variety within what I was doing, you know, when I was transferred from there to another unit and at the unit, they gave me the opportunity to be the commander's secretary. I said, No. Because that involved making coffee and typing letters, and those are things that I wouldn't do.
And, So, I was transferred. And you know, it's very interesting because this is a story that I share when I do some of my keynotes or when I'm doing trainings in organizations, and we talk about behavior style. And the wisdom of understanding and being aware of personal skill sets and what happens when you're in a position that's not matching to your skill sets.
Yeah. So, one of the jobs that I had in the military, which is one of those, I was put in a room with no windows in front of a computer and no people, just me and the computer. And I had to take, I had piles of intel. And I had to take that intel and transcribe them onto these sheets that had little green boxes.
Now, for those that are older, they'll know what they're used for. Those were sent once you had to write on them and put each letter in the proper box and making sure that it's done properly. Those were sent over underground to the massive computers, to the girls that were doing the punching, the keyhole punching. To type things onto the server. And then when I had that same article, I would have to see if they typed it properly and compare it to the computer. Needless to say. That I pretty much almost lost my mind in that position. And I ended up getting transferred. I ended up getting transferred from there and ultimately, I ended up getting transferred from that unit. And then I got to the final location that I was at, and I had the master sergeant. Female was in charge of the admin department, and I was under her responsibility, and she said, look, I have a couple of, I have some options for you. You could do door number one, which is working for the commander.
He's got some needs. You could do door number two, which is working here with me in the admin department. Or you could choose door number three. Door number three. There is a desk in the next room over next to the unit bursar. And we need someone who can handle social needs of the unit, female needs of the unit, and educational needs of the unit.
Technically, it would be three separate non-commissioned officers, but we only have room for one. Which door would you like to choose? I chose door number three. Yeah, because door number three allowed me to be around people, allowed me to serve and allowed me to have variety.
[00:18:41] Sanjay Parekh: I think that's, you know, for a lot of times for entrepreneurs, that's key. And that's the reason why we do kind of some of the things that we do.
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[00:19:13] Sanjay Parekh: So, let's change gears a little bit and talk about, you know, something you just touched on about, you know, losing your mind. you know, it, it's hard being an entrepreneur and it's a lot of stress, because. You're really the one that everything relies on. You know, if you're by yourself or if you have a team, whatever, it all comes down to you.
How do you think about and manage stress of owning your own business and, and even, especially going back a little bit about starting this side hustle within the business that you already had, how did you manage the stress of all of that?
[00:19:49] Dr. Karen Jacobson: Systems, organization, discipline and structure. So, let's back that up with discipline.
One of the things that, you know, you'll hear lots of entrepreneurs talking about is mastering your day. And I've had personal rituals that I've been practicing for decades. It would start, and it doesn't matter, by the way, whether I'm home, whether I change the time that I start my day, whether it's a weekend, I still have that same ritual.
I just kind of adjust it to what's necessary. And so, I'll wake up and I'll do my meditation, I'll do some type of reading, something inspirational to feed my mind and feed my soul, and then I'll work out. and I start my day with the workout, you know, in order to build energy within my body.
And then once I do that, you know, very often, depending on whether I'm working out at home. Then I'll actually put something educational on in the background to, again, while I'm creating that energy to feed my mind, right? And if I'm, if I'm working out, if I'm walking outdoors, I might listen to a podcast, I might listen to a program.
And then after that, I start getting ready for the day. So, really making sure that I take ownership of my own skills and center myself before I start my day. And the aspect of centering is so essential because it's very easy to get overwhelmed. You know, I have a calendar. That is multicolored, set up to the different things that I'm doing, and everything is planned. It doesn't mean that there's no room for flexibility if something comes up, but there has to be a structure. Yeah, there has to be some type of organization knowing who the team is around me. That can support me. You know, I've got a bookkeeper, I've got an attorney, I've got an accountant, I've got mentors, I've got, you know, friends to lean on. I've got people to brainstorm with. For an entrepreneur, it can be a very lonely journey. You have to build that support group around you. And create balance. So, one of my biggest mistakes and one of the reasons why I had made major shifts moving from having my chiropractic practice to changing the way I operate my life in this platform, is that I will say, admittedly, I just as the I lived the hustle.
I pretty much didn't have anything else for many times. I was so engaged in my work, 24/7. That other things fell by the wayside. Okay. When I added and some of the shift happened when I added the ballroom dancing, that I was also very engaged in that as part of my outlet. You have to have some type of an outlet to be able to reduce the stress.
[00:23:13] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah. Yeah. So, let's change gears a little bit and see if we can give some advice to the listeners. You do talks on leadership, and you know, obviously our audience is made up of people that are, that are starting companies and leading companies. What like one of the biggest mistakes or challenges that you've seen, when you do these talks in terms of audience and what are the things that they could do to alleviate those issues or do better? In terms of leaving organizations.
[00:23:49] Dr. Karen Jacobson: Yes, and it's funny, I just was talking to somebody yesterday and I was talking about the one word that a leader really would benefit from, and it's the word no because I compare my journey in the earlier years. Hey Karen, can you sit on this committee? Hey Karen, can you do this? Hey, Karen, sure, why not?
And the fact that you're doing more doesn't mean you're doing the right things. Okay. It's you, I would say incorporate into your life some type of activity that would allow you to give back. If you happen to be in a trade association that allows you to volunteer, go volunteer. You know, I'm a professional speaker.
I'm a member of the National Speakers Association. I've been volunteering for years to sit on different committees. I also am a member of, you know, I've found my way to be a remote member of the Texas North Texas speakers Association. I run the hybrid meetings remotely. I volunteer my time. It allows me to connect with other people and allows me to build some friendships because whether you're a consultant, whether you're a business owner, whether you're a speaker, as an entrepreneur, even if you have a team, you're still the owner. And that journey can be lonely. So, find the peer group. Yeah. That can support you.
[00:25:28] Sanjay Parekh: One, one of the things I think happens, and I think, what you just said, I'm definitely guilty of not saying no, enough. I think one of the things that happens for a lot of people is that fear of missing out, right?
The F.O.M.O. of, well, what if I say yes to this and it leads to something, or, you know, but what if I say no? And then I lose out on that? How do you think about that and dealing with that F.O.M.O. of saying no?
[00:25:57] Dr. Karen Jacobson: I think it's really important to have a clear understanding of what your true vision mission and goals are. And whether you're a solopreneur or whether you're an organization, it's going to be the same. The difference between the solopreneur is that when, if you're hiring two, three people, you want to make sure that they can buy in. And they can follow that same vision and mission, but that vision, that mission that you have are the ones that are your guiding light.
Yeah. You know, I had an old colleague who used to say that, that helps you. That's your true north. That's the reason why you do what you do, because when you accomplish and you change people's lives or you offer them a service, you know, that gives you joy. Looking at what you're being asked to do. Is it in alignment with your vision and mission and goals?
Is the return going to be one that will really help your business grow? Or is just a time stealer. I was just involved with a group and we're talking about some type of a marketing strategy, and it happened to be related to online marketing. Now, I will say without a doubt, I am much better face to face, even though I've written a book, I've been a co-author in four others. I can write. But it's how is my time best spent? Being with this pod and responding to all their stuff or looking to meet with an individual and have a conversation that could lead to my business growth. Do I attempt to stay with it to see how long I can hang on to get results? Or do I say no?
[00:27:59] Sanjay Parekh: Yeah. Yeah. Great feedback. I'm going to have to think about that myself and all the things that I'm doing and things that I've said yes to and maybe I should have said no to.
[00:28:11] Dr. Karen Jacobson: So, here's a practical thing. Take a sheet of paper. Okay. Look at, and, and take all the organizations that you belong to, all the places you volunteer, all the things that you are doing. And then put in, is it adding to my business or is it taking away from my business? Now I'm not putting in that category the aspect of spending time with family, taking vacations and creating a full life. It's more the tasks that you're spending your time on. Are they adding or taking away? If you are doing something for eight, nine months and you've had zero return, why are you doing it?
[00:29:04] Sanjay Parekh: Right? That's a, it's a really good point and a really great way of looking at it. So, last question before we wrap up here. So, you've done this now a couple of times, starting a new thing and starting a side hustle within a thing. What would you tell somebody that's thinking about taking the leap of starting a side hustle or turning their side hustle into a small business? What advice would you give them?
[00:29:31] Dr. Karen Jacobson: I think the hardest part for somebody who has a side hustle and has a main career is when do I take the leap?
[00:29:39] Sanjay Parekh: Definitely.
[00:29:40] Dr. Karen Jacobson: Okay. When I had, you know, full transparency when I had my practice, it was very hard for me to let go of the practice. It took almost two years to find a buyer, and the buyer ended up at the 90th minute backing out because of loyalty to a friend that had, I guess a death in the family and offered the guy, the practice that left me hanging, what do I do?
And I was already out and there was no way because it was at the end of a lease for me. And there was no way I was going to sign another three to five year lease. And I ended up, with a fire sale that didn't yield anything. So, in all honesty, I ended up losing the practice.
Yeah. That I spent years building. And I took the people that were left, and I moved into a colleague's office. So, I can continue to serve them for a period of time. And I was attempting at that point to work both of the businesses where my intention was growing the new side hustle, turning it into main and allowing the other one. Well, they ended up becoming both side hustles. And I spent a while struggling like that. Yeah. And at the end of about a year and a half, I was sitting in the parking lot and I just, like a light bulb went on and I just heard the book, Karen, you're done. It was about taking that leap of faith. And I'm not saying, you know, everyone's going to know when their leap of faith has to be, but there's going to be a time when you're going to have to make that decision. And I will say that if you have a side hustle that you're looking to step into and make it your main career, waiting until your current business is going to get better, probably won't happen. Now, it’s kind of whatever plan you have, may not be the plan that God has. It might go in a very different direction, and I've had that experience more than once. If you have a career and you're moving from corporate and you have a side hustle, then just make sure that maybe you do some advanced planning and know that you have maybe six months of expenses before you jump and make that leap. Yeah. But when you are in that side hustle, full-time, mind, body, and spirit, that's when it's going to grow.
[00:32:40] Sanjay Parekh: Yep, exactly. Okay. Dr. J, this has been fantastic. Where can our listeners find and connect with you?
[00:32:50] Dr. Karen Jacobson: I am online everywhere, although we did say, everywhere but TikTok, that's, haven't done that. If you go online, whether it's my website, whether it's Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn, it's all under Dr. Karen Jacobson with a j a c o b s o n.
[00:33:10] Sanjay Parekh: And there you go. Thanks a lot for being on the show today.
[00:33:12] Dr. Karen Jacobson: Thank you.
[00:33:18] Sanjay Parekh: Thank you for listening to this week's episode of the Side Hustle to Small Business Podcast, powered by Hiscox. To learn more about how Hiscox can help protect your small business through intelligent insurance solutions, visit hiscox.com. And if you have a story you want to hear on this podcast, please visit www.hiscox.com/shareyourstory. I'm your host Sanjay Parekh. You can find me on Twitter @sanjay or on my website at www.sanjayparekh.com