Dr. Eric Plasker of 100 Year Lifestyle: “Know who to work with”

Know who to work with. People can make everything better and people can make everything worse. As a practitioner and a business owner, it is important to know who the people are that you want to work with and who the people are that you don’t want to work with. Building a team around you that […]

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Know who to work with. People can make everything better and people can make everything worse. As a practitioner and a business owner, it is important to know who the people are that you want to work with and who the people are that you don’t want to work with.

Building a team around you that complements your natural talents will help you scale. It is also important to have a doctor team that can deliver the care with consistency. People and company choices become the most important ones you will make for your practice.

As a part of our interview series with prominent medical professionals called “5 Things You Need To Know To Create a Highly Successful Private Practice” I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Eric Plasker.

Dr. Eric Plasker is a chiropractor and founder of The 100 Year Lifestyle, an international network and training organization designed to help chiropractors and other wholistic practitioners be better communicators and better business leaders, equipped with the necessary skills to be primary health and wellness resources for their communities. He is passionate about the body’s innate ability to heal, and about making everyone’s life, from birth to their last breath, as healthy as possible.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you ended up where you are?

When I was 15 years old, I was injured playing football. I was rushed to the emergency room where they did some tests and the doctor told me, “Take these drugs and don’t play for 30 days.” Well, I wanted to play! The next day my mother took me to a chiropractor, Dr. Ernie Landi in Spring Valley, New York, and he gave me my first adjustment. I played that afternoon without any pain! I was fired up! I wanted as many people as possible to get rid of health problems naturally and perform at higher levels. That was the day I chose to be a chiropractor.

While in school at Life University, I became aware of many scientific, political, sports, and public relations issues related to healthcare, families, and aging that were disturbing. I realized that my profession was capable of so much more than just getting athletes back on the field. Since then, I’ve built and sold multiple practices, trained over 10,000 chiropractors, trained other holistic professionals on the principles of The 100 Year Lifestyle, and written several best-selling books, while also building a network of offices.

The world is finally catching up to these ideas. Every day I feel like we are just getting started.

I’m a huge fan of mentorship throughout one’s career. None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Who has been your biggest mentor? What was the most valuable lesson you learned from them?

I have been blessed with incredible mentors. As I mentioned, Dr. Ernie Landi, my first chiropractor, taught me about the importance of service and principles. This has kept me humble to the bigger picture and the work that needs to be done versus just basking in successes.

Dr. Alex Cox from the Gonstead Clinic taught me the importance of specificity and the healing power of the human body. He taught me the importance of clinical excellence.

Dr. Joseph Flesia inspired me to “get bigger than your town.” He saw something special in me and encouraged me to take these principles to the world. He introduced me to the concept of longevity, and he also taught me the importance of balance. He once said to me, “Eric, listen to everything I tell you about practice, but don’t listen to anything I tell you about family.” He had a very challenging time with family and staying married. I took his advice and have been blessed to be married to my wife, Lisa, for 33 years. We have three awesome children, Dr. Jacob, Dr. Emily, and Dr. Cory, all of whom chose to become chiropractors.

What made you want to start your own practice? Can you tell us the story of how you started it?

I always knew I wanted my own practice, but I was a kid when I graduated. I was only 23 years old. I got a job working for another doctor and, while I loved the environment and the friendship, I really wanted to do my own thing, but I was afraid.

One day I got a tip on a practice where the doctor had only a small number of patient files and wanted to sell. I got the keys and went to look at the space. It was the single ugliest office I had ever seen. While I was there a patient walked in and rapidly made his way up the very long hallway screaming at the top of his lungs, “Is the doctor in? Is the doctor in?” I hadn’t bought the practice yet, but I said to him, “I’m the doctor.” I tested out the X-ray machine and gave him his first adjustment. He responded fantastically. I took it as a sign and bought the practice the next day.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Without question, the most interesting story of my career is about a 98-year-old man who came into the office crippled, broke, and alone. His name was Max. Up until that time I had never even seen a 98-year-old man before, and I had no idea whether or not the chiropractic care we would provide could help him. So, when he asked me if we could help him, I said, “Max, I have no idea. But as long as you’re alive and breathing, and there’s life flowing over your nervous system, let’s give it a shot.”

I examined Max and began to adjust him. Within 30 days his pain was nearly all gone, and he was standing more upright. Within three months he was moving with a lot of pep in his step and the pain lines were gone from his face. My staff and I fell in love with this sweet man. We tried to give him free care and feed him because he was always alone. It broke our hearts when he would not except any of our offers.

Max came for a year straight, and never missed an appointment until one day. We tried to reach him several different ways, but to no avail. At 99 years old, we figured the obvious had happened and that he had passed. We went back to the office, said a little prayer for Max, and went about our business.

One year later, at the age of 100, Max came walking through the front door of our office without an appointment. My assistant screamed like she was seeing a ghost. When I heard her call his name, I cleared out our rooms and went up to Max to say hello and give him a hug.

He looked extremely frail, like a man who was ready to go. We looked at each other and I said to him, “Max where have you been? We’ve missed you so much.” He looked up at me, he grabbed my hand like he had done many times before, and said to me, “Thank you, Dr. Plasker. Thank you.”

And then he died. Right there in the reception room.

It took about a decade for that experience to sink in. Since then, I have provided care for so many individuals, families, athletes, and people of all ages, and the question that became the staple of The 100 Year Lifestyle was born, “If you knew you live to 100, how would you change your life today?”

Max, thank you for this gift. We are all getting advance notice of our longevity potential right now.

Because it is a “helping profession”, some healthcare providers struggle with the idea of “monetization.” How do you address the business aspect of running a medical practice? Can you share a story or example?

It took a few years for me to realize the importance of the business side of practice. I struggled with this because of my inexperience, and there were a few incidents that changed me. I went to a seminar to listen to a “practice management guru” who gave a passionate presentation on lowering fees. Being young and naïve I thought, “Wow, this would help me help more people.”

Well, that’s not what happened. I followed his advice and cut my fees in half. I started doing more volume, but I ended up with a practice that was earning half as much and had patients who were not loyal to anything other than a cheap deal.

I had commoditized our great care, and it felt very empty. I recommitted myself to high quality care and value using The 100 Year Lifestyle model. The practice began attracting more committed lifetime patients that valued what we did. We did not file insurance, but instead gave people receipts to file it themselves. We realized that while we wanted to help everyone, there was no way that we could be all things to all people. So, we drew a line in the sand and maintained a high level of compassion and commitment to service. We grew and grew.

We were committed to educating our community about health and wellness and not just crisis care. We taught parents how to raise healthier children. We taught athletes how to heal faster and function at higher levels. We got involved in the community as teachers and leaders, and they felt our passion.

But they weren’t the only ones who felt it. Chiropractors around the world got wind of what we were doing. They wanted to learn from us, and our company was born. We started creating products and services for our doctors to help them educate their community, run their offices more effectively, and grow. Now, all our resources are co-branded with The 100 Year Lifestyle so that we can help individual practitioners lead their community, while also being a part of something bigger and having a collective message in the world.

We’ve created a licensing model that provides all the benefits of a franchise without the expenses and without having to give up a percentage of your business income or growth. It is simple. We are adding more chiropractic offices all the time, and we are also attracting holistic practitioners and relationships with companies and products that are clean, organic, and important for quality of life and longevity. Collectively we are using the 100 Year Lifestyle to educate the world about how to live better longer, rather than rot away and deteriorate.

Living healthy to 100 is birthright time, not borrowed time. All of these business changes were design to stimulate personal and cultural change with service consciousness at the core of everything we do.

Managing being a provider and a business owner is a constant balancing act. How do you manage both roles?

To help myself and all our practitioners balance practitioner mode with running their business and spending quality time with their family, I created a time system called “PrimeTime, PrepTime, PlayTime.” In our practice, PrimeTime is the time dedicated to patient care and results. In our business, PrimeTime is the time in front of public, corporate, or doctor audiences teaching and training them how to live healthier, run healthier companies, and be better, more successful doctors. PrepTime is dedicated to organization and strategic planning, meeting with staff, cleaning up messes, and laying the tracks for the future. PlayTime is personal time dedicated to doing the things we enjoy outside of work or handling personal situations. As a framework, we set our lives up this way. It enables us to give great quality care, stay creative, and balance our life.

The next most important way to find the balance is to have great people on your team. Complementing your skills by having people around you with great skills in other areas is necessary to grow your business while having a bigger impact with your care and vision.

I had an employee for 20 years whose name was Sergio. He was a developer who brought The 100 Year Lifestyle into the technology age. We met often and collaborated on creating resources for the public and for our network of doctors.

Sadly, Sergio had a terminal lung condition that he kept secret from everyone, including his family. One day he just didn’t show up for work. The next day, I went to visit him in the hospital where he was unconscious and on a ventilator. We never had another conversation.

It took a while to find the similar collaborative relationship that I had with Sergio. Once we did, it brought me back into balance, but I needed to take the initiative. Those key relationships are essential to stay in balance. Today, we have found our groove and continue to attract talent in the technology area. Our team is cranking out next level resources, and we are now even better able to reach the public as well as our provider network.

Young practitioners will need more PrepTime to get all the pieces in place to build a practice. As they generate more income and become more successful, they can delegate to others and substitute more PlayTime for PrepTime and PrimeTime. This time structure is a great model, even into the “retirement age.” It keeps people young, energetic, and engaged, while also giving them the freedom to enjoy their life outside of work.

From completing your degree to opening a practice and becoming a business owner, your path was most likely challenging. Can you share a story about one of your greatest struggles? Can you share what you did to overcome it?

Being in business for 35 years inevitably brings challenges. I experienced many along the way including my own injured child and a car accidentally driving through the waiting room of our office at 40 mph injuring our patients and destroying the building. But I think from a business perspective, the biggest challenge was when the economy crashed in 2009. Overnight, and with no warning, the banks stopped lending money. Our cash flow went to almost zero overnight. We have 15 coaches working for us at the time and lots of offices that we were training. We had to eliminate a major portion of our staff, radically change our infrastructure, and I literally rolled up my sleeves and personally coached every single person until we could change our model and turn things around.

Fortunately, we did, and things are better than ever. There were many times that I wasn’t sure we would make it. Now, with the combined wisdom of overcoming challenges like this while also helping doctors grow by over $1 billion collectively over the years, we are primed to change more people’s lives and help more practitioners than ever.

Ok, thank you. Here is the main question of our interview. What are the 5 things you need to know to create a thriving practice, and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

1. Know your vision.As a provider, clarifying and articulating your vision is a process that takes time. For some it comes quickly and naturally, but for many it can be a grueling process. Don’t be discouraged. It is worth the mental and physical effort. One important suggestion is to speak and write out your thoughts regularly. Thinking is not enough and can lead to what I have facetiously called “exploding head syndrome,” wearing you out.

The 100 Year Lifestyle is about living an active, healthy quality of life to 100 years and beyond rather than deteriorating for the last decades of your life. The chiropractic care that we provide helps people function better, longer, and the branding immediately articulates the vision for people and companies, which is why they get on board. At our Speak Up & Lead training programs it is fun to watch people break through. It’s like they are popping the cork on their personal champagne bottle. They “get the big idea and all else follows,” as world renowned developer of chiropractic Dr. BJ Palmer used to say.

2. Don’t be a cool chaser. Know your hedgehog. Technology is great for your practice if it falls in line with your vision and core business model, your hedgehog. Otherwise, it can be a huge waste of money and time. Over the years I have wasted a lot of money on “cool” gadgets that never got implemented and distracted our team. Some of them even lost us some great patients. Don’t be a cool chaser.

For our patients and for our 100 Year Lifestyle Affiliates it is simple, our hedgehog is lifestyle care. We have lifetime patients who love their results. They want to get healthy and stay healthy for a lifetime, and they want to raise their family this way. They want to get off the roller coaster of pain and sickness. We call it living at 100% for 100 years.

We recently had a young woman in her early twenties come to visit us because of headaches. We examined her and educated her about the underlying cause of her problem and the longevity principles of The 100 Year Lifestyle. We gave her a choice to do crisis care by itself or, in addition to that, make the transition to lifestyle care.

Her dad came in with her for this visit and totally connected to the message and how it related to his own health and life. He had just retired from work, was in pain, unhealthy, and overweight. His spine and nervous system were not functioning properly and arthritic. He knew that he needed a change.

Within 7 days he brought his entire family in for the chiropractic care, and we recommended healthy lifestyle options. They are excited. He is playing tennis regularly, more flexible, more energetic, and has more mobility. He is happy. His wife and kids are seeing the results as well. They are not taking any medication. They are committed to living their ideal 100 Year Lifestyle.

This happens all the time. We attract lots of crisis care patients. We attract lots of lifestyle care patients. And we transition as many people as possible from crisis care to lifestyle care. This is better for everyone involved.

Everybody wants to live better longer, which is what lifestyle care is all about. Because they value their health and longevity, many people choose to come, with their love ones, with gratitude, for a lifetime. We form fantastic relationships through this transition to lifestyle care, which is super satisfying for everyone involved─our doctors, staff, and of course, our practice members.

3. Implement Congruent Systems.It is important for every business to systematize their processes in order to grow. The challenge can be that there are so many systems out there, providers don’t know what to choose or who to trust. It’s vital that you implement systems that are aligned with your vision and hedgehog.

In our practices, we are committed to systems that are corrective in nature and help people function at higher levels for a lifetime. It is not enough to just treat symptoms. Just because a symptom feels better, it doesn’t mean you are healthy. We see so many patients who have been masking symptoms with drugs for years and have deteriorated unnecessarily as a result. They blame their age. It is not age’s fault.

As a part of our educational system, we give every new patient on their first visit a newsletter titled, A Picture’s Worth 1,000 Words. It is also on our website, and we share it on our social media pages.

In it three pictures show neck X-rays of three different people in their mid-fifties. The first X-ray shows a patient with severe deterioration at levels C4, C5, C6, and C7. This person had never been to a chiropractor and had been using over-the-counter and prescription drugs for decades to mask their symptoms. The person in the middle X-ray has moderate deterioration at levels C5-C6. They have been under crisis care only. They are much better off than the person on the left, but still showing significant signs of decay. The person on the right, who is the same age, has been under chiropractic lifestyle care for 50 years. The neck curve is near normal, and there is no decay.

Why is this important? We systematically educate people, so they understand their options. Then, as a part of our system, we give people options on doing crisis care by itself or a package that bundles crisis care with the transition to lifestyle care. It is exciting to see people make this choice.

In this system, the person in front of us is our primary concern and customer, not some 3rd party insurance bureaucrat. They know we care, and we are speaking truth. They love us. They trust us. They value the care. They come from all over. And many of them stay with us for a lifetime, healthier.

It is much better for them, and it is also better for our practices. The patient success stories go on for a lifetime, the referral base grows deep, and the relationships are fantastic.

4. Know how to adapt.When COVID hit, everyone was talking about protecting the most vulnerable people and became overwhelmed with fear. Many doctors and holistic product companies did not know what to do or how to adapt. Many went out of business.

Very few people were talking about how to strengthen the immune system to stay healthy so they could live without fear. We immediately produced a video and created a free eBook titled, “Becoming a Least Vulnerable Person,” that people can download for free from 100YearLifestyle.com. It took off like a rocket and it helped many of our 100 Year Lifestyle Affiliates to have a record or near-record year.

Several people said to me, “Wow, you’ve really changed your message.” My answer to them was, “New world, new talk, same principles.” We changed our conversation without compromising our core values.

Change is inevitable. The economy changes, the world changes, the environment changes, payment mechanisms change, the marketing environment changes. Being unwilling to change can be devastating to a practice. You have to know how to know how to adapt.

5. Know who to work with. People can make everything better and people can make everything worse. As a practitioner and a business owner, it is important to know who the people are that you want to work with and who the people are that you don’t want to work with.

Building a team around you that complements your natural talents will help you scale. It is also important to have a doctor team that can deliver the care with consistency. People and company choices become the most important ones you will make for your practice.

As you become more successful, more people want a piece of you, and you have to be very discerning about who you let into your inner circle. At the same time, it’s important to be able to identify the right customers. Not everyone is a good fit for the services that you offer. This is not always easy to spot, but as time goes on you get wisdom.

We have an acronym for WISDOM: When Innate Steadfastly Drives Our Mission, we get wisdom. Learn to trust your instincts, your innate, as it relates to the people and situations you encounter each day.

As a business owner you spend most of your time working IN your practice, seeing patients. When and how do you shift to working ON your practice? (Marketing, upgrading systems, growing your practice, etc.) How much time do you spend on the business elements?

As I mentioned, we have a time system that we use in our practice and that we have been teaching other doctors and business owners for decades. Simply stated, we categorize the days of the week into either PrimeTime, PrepTime, or PlayTime.

PrimeTime is the time that we see patients, focus on giving great care, getting great results, and being highly productive. We block out the world and shield ourselves from distractions. The results at the end of the day should be quantified by how many patients, people, customers you saw and how much production did you do. PrimeTime is working IN your business.

PrepTime is the time to focus on strategic planning, organization, getting things done, and cleaning up messes. The results at the end of the day should be quantified by how much you got done. PrepTime is working ON your business.

PlayTime is the time that you spend with family, friends, relaxing, enjoyment, travel, or handling personal issues. PlayTime is stepping away from your business.

If these three are out of balance it can create all types of problems. All Primetime with no PrepTime and PlayTime leads to divorce, burnout, and health problems. All PrepTime and with minimal PrimeTime and PlayTime leads to being constantly busy without accomplishing anything or getting ahead. All PlayTime without quality PrimeTime and PrepTime can lead to unmanageable debt and even bankruptcy.

This model of time will simplify your life, increase your fun, and capacity, while creating better results for your patients and making you much more productive.

I understand that the healthcare industry has unique stresses and hazards that other industries don’t have. What specific practices would you recommend to other healthcare leaders to improve their physical or mental wellness? Can you share a story or example?

In our practice we emphasize that patient’s need to take responsibility for their side of their care. People have to take responsibility for themselves and do their part. The same holds true for healthcare leaders. If you want to be a trusted source of health, lifestyle, and education, you need to walk the talk. It can be difficult, but again, that’s where our PrimeTime, PrepTime, and PlayTime time system comes into play. When you use this system there is no more excuse that you don’t have enough time to exercise, take a mental health day, or eat right. It is essential that practitioners walk the talk of health and vitality. There are so many healthcare practitioners who are unhealthy themselves and, as a result, they are not followable. Worst of all, they themselves are sick. That’s why we say and teach practitioners who affiliate with The 100 Year Lifestyle to “Live. Practice. Yours!”

Back in 2002, I was 60 pounds heavier than I am now. I wasn’t living the 100 Year Lifestyle! I was embarrassed to use my picture in promotional opportunities, and I had lots of them. One of my patients for years was the entertainer Usher. I had great pictures of him with my kids, but I never allowed the one of me with him never to be published anywhere. Fortunately, times have changed since I have been living and embodying my 100 Year Lifestyle.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story about how that was relevant in your own life?

My favorite Life Lesson Quote is, “It is, not, about you.”

It is about you because you have to do your job, follow-through, do the work. It is not about you because it is about the people that you are caring for. Your patients, your customers, your community. If you make it all about you, you become narcissistic, which is unhealthy for anyone, let alone a practitioner. If you make it all about your patients, it is easy to lose yourself in what you do and become unhealthy.

When our publishing company was preparing to launch The 100 Year Lifestyle book, they sent me about a dozen different versions of the cover to choose from. All of them had my picture on it. I sent them all back and said, “Do not put my picture on the cover of the book.” They asked why? And I said, “The last thing the world needs is another bald guy on the cover of a book.”

It was never about me. Certainly, I did the work with the help of a great team. It was always about producing a principle and a brand that could literally transform health and longevity worldwide. We made the right decision.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

The general public can find us at 100YearLifestyle.com, and healthcare providers and companies can find us at 100YLProviders.com.

Thank you for these great insights! We wish you continued success and good health!

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