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Welcome to episode #53 of the Morning Upgrade Podcast. In this episode I spoke with Poonam Sooknanan, the co-owner of Infinite Therapy Solutions, and CEO of Healthy Habitats. She enjoys going out to dinner and exploring New York City.

Top Talking Points

  • The importance of pushing yourself to (and past) your limit every day.
  • The benefits of splitting work among multiple people.
  • How to overcome unexpected obstacles in your business.

Share Link for this episode

Connect With Poonam at infinitetherapysolutions.org

Find The Books Mentioned on Kindle or Audible

Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins

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Thanks for listening to this week’s episode of the Morning Upgrade Podcast with my guest Poonam. If you enjoyed this episode, please click the image below to subscribe…and don’t forget to leave a review!

Episode Transcript

Ryan  

Hey guys, it’s Ryan real quick. So my mission with the Morning Upgrade blog and podcast is to raise the awareness of morning routines and personal development. And I now have two products that are also helped me with this mission. The first product helps you start a 20 minute morning routine. And the second product is a book that outlines how to use personal development, upgrade your life and business. You can get full details on both products over at morningupgrade.com. Thanks for letting me share. And now on to the show.

Announcer  

Welcome to the Morning Upgrade podcast with Ryan Cote where we feature casual conversations with entrepreneurs about personal development and growth.

Ryan 

Welcome to the Morning Upgrade podcast Poonam. How are you?

Poonam  

Hi, Ryan, I’m great. Thank you. I’m excited to be here.

Ryan  

Yeah, I’m excited to have you. Yes, obviously, you know, I know who you are. Because you’re a client of Ballantine. And we’ve been working with you for years. But for everyone listening, why don’t you tell everyone who you are, what you do for a living? And then maybe some of your hobbies as well?

Poonam  

Sure, absolutely. So most importantly, I’m a mom of two amazing children. I’m a wife. I’m also the co-founder and CEO of Internet Therapy Solutions, which is a multidisciplinary pediatric therapy company located in Hudson and Essex County, as well as I, have another company that you probably don’t know how but I am the CEO of Healthy Habitat, which is a therapy staffing company. That’s my personal company, infinite Therapy Solutions. I am one of the owners of three.

Ryan 

I didn’t know about the other business. How much time do you commit to it a week?

Poonam 

how much time do I commit to it, I would say probably five to six hours a week. It’s something I’ve had for probably 15 years plus. And I’ve developed some good relationships with various businesses and school districts that need staffing needs in their schools. And I’m able to interview and have OTs and PTs and speech therapists provide therapies to the children there.

Ryan  

What about your hobbies? What do you do for fun?

Poonam  

I like working out and I think I might have turned that or told myself it’s a hobby because I know I need to do it. But as I realized as I get busier, I think I am just making myself realize that that’s what I need to do. So I’m considering it my hobby, but truly what I really enjoy doing, I like going out to dinner I like spontaneity, I like going to the city and having adventures during COVID. Obviously, there was no traffic to get to the city and me and my kids would just hop in the car. And we do all the tourist attractions that we never did before just being so close to it. So that was a nice way to weave through COVID but also be able to do some things you don’t feel like you’re also closing in on.

Ryan  

I do want to talk about COVID and just how you and your partner’s got through it not financially, but more like mentally. But you had mentioned before we get to that you mentioned exercise. And before we start recording, you mentioned that exercise is a big part of your morning routine. So why don’t we start off by talking about what your morning routine looks like how you approach exercise, and anything else you want to share?

Poonam  

Sure. So on the days that I do not go to the office, I would generally wake up at 730, I would either go to the gym, or I wouldn’t do a workout at home. I’m a physical therapist. So I am super conscientious of my body and how my body runs and where I am from a really tiring perspective or really high energy perspective. So when I work out, I generally push myself to my limit and to my edge. And it’s there that I will be completely out of breath and my lungs are gasping for air. And just trying to maintain that for a certain level of time, whether I’m able to do it for two minutes, you know, maybe the week before, and I push it to three minutes this week. But then when I’m able to recover from that, it just reminds me that I am just capable, more capable than I think I am. So it helps propel me and push my body helps to clear my mind. And then I can grow to the next level. Because what I’ve realized is that we are our own limitations. It’s all self-imposed. So if my body can do it at the gym, then my mind can do it in the real world with business or personally.

Ryan  

In the book by David Goggins, I think it’s Can’t Hurt Me says that when you think you’re at your end like I can’t do it anymore. I have to give up exercise or whatever. You’re usually like, 40% of the way there and believe it. And granted, he’s like a physical specimen. But I think there is something to that because the mind does start to shut you down. Trying to keep you safe.

Poonam  

Yes. And I think it goes into that fight or flight way before it needs to. And because probably if we did, you know a study and check your oxygen levels, you’re fine. You can maintain it for another hour. But our mind tells us you’re done. You’ve shut down and you know, let’s stop so I think you just have to fight it. Your body has to fight your mind and just keep going because you learn so much from it. It’s not just physical You know, physicality. It’s, it’s just so much more than that.

Ryan  

What’s the hardest type of exercise that you do? Like, what’s your go-to?

Poonam  

I am a big yogi. So I like yoga a lot. But since COVID, I just needed to get outside. So I started running. And now I can go back to the gym. So now I’m just, you know, taking a variety of classes, just so I can see some people.

Ryan 

Then you mentioned energy, like maintaining your energy and keeping track of energy, do you have any tips around that like maintaining a high energy level?

Poonam  

I would say, just food intake, again, working out consistently, I mean, like, you know, five, five days a week, at minimum really helps to keep you at that level. You know, what’s funny is yesterday, I was so rundown, I was just super tired, and I didn’t necessarily do anything that would have taken me there. And I was talking to my kids, and my kids, just, you know, kind of can understand where I am, right? Because when the mom is in a good state, the whole house is in a good state. Well, yesterday, I was super tired, and probably the dishes don’t get done. And the food that I made was kind of okay. And my daughter said, you know, Mom, you’re probably super tired, because you didn’t do any exercise today. And I thought, gosh, you know, what, if someone else can determine that I really need to get that must be my go-to that must be where I am releasing any negative energy and getting my positivity and getting those endorphins running. So that’s what I did, I realized, you know, the days that I slack off, and I don’t go and I just kind of relaxing a little bit, I realized that I’m so much better off when I took that time for myself. And I’ve done that, you know, taking go to my limit and come back from it. So this morning, I did that right before this podcast, and I feel I feel great. And I think, you know, the house will be cleaner too.

Ryan  

So I definitely feel a lot better when I exercise, you know, haven’t yet today, but I’ll do it in the afternoon, it’s gonna be like 90 degrees, but will still yet still do it. I want to go to your business. Now I want to ask you about the meaning of life, in your opinion. And maybe that’s changed over the last year and a half. But first, I want to go to your business. So COVID thing shutting down, things got very scary and uncertain. How did you and your partners get through it mentally?

Poonam  

So, I would say one thing is, it’s really amazing to have partners because it’s not all on your shoulders. So that in one in one aspect, I just wanted to understand and accept the fact that although you know, having a partnership can be very challenging at times, you know, three different people and three different opinions. Also, taking the burden of stress and releasing it between three people is very helpful as well. So I would say that how we were able to adjust or COVID is adapting. And that also was hard for us. I mean, COVID came, but even prior to COVID. As you know, most of my clients utilize their insurance for physical occupational speech, and ABA, reimbursement rates were declining significantly. So when we went from as an out of network provider, to an in-network provider, and when you’re an in-network provider, you are making contracted rates with insurance companies. So you’re able to access so many more clients and so many more children, and work with them and benefit their family because you are now within their insurance realm. And the cost to the patient isn’t as high, which is fantastic. Because we can now reach so many more people. But simultaneously, we need to in order to reach the level that we were at prior, we need to probably treat three to four times more than we were before. So we really had to adjust the way we did us the way we treated. And the reason why we started this business was that we wanted a holistic approach to the child. We wanted the one-hour therapy session, we wanted the 15 minutes of talking to the parents. And we really thought that that was the way that we can maintain when you go in-network, you just don’t have that opportunity. It doesn’t the reimbursement doesn’t support that. So we’ve had to adjust and change the way we thought about therapy and thought about patient delivery, while not reducing the quality of care. So that took some, you know, resetting in our minds, right? Because as therapists ourselves and owning a business. We didn’t want to work the way we hated to work when we were working for other companies and putting clients after clients one right after the other not having an opportunity to talk to the parents about what was going on. And so with that, we were able to adjust and change the way the client was seen the length of time, but then Institute you know different ways to tell the parents you know what did your child I will do at this time, you know, generally without COVID that the parents can come in. But with COVID, we had to close off our waiting room, we couldn’t have, we have to do drop-offs right at the door, and the therapist would bring that child in. And you have to remember that the types of kids we’re working with are, you know, children with developmental delays with autism, there’s a lot of difficulties may be leaving their parents, and things of that nature. But we learned to adjust the way we delivered the care. And so we had, you know, we came up with different forms that we can check off and write in and while the patient, the child goes back to mom, you can give that form to mom, and then Mom can, you know, email or text to the therapist, and we realize that that 30-minute timeframe, we didn’t allow, didn’t allow for the child to kind of lose their balance and not have their ability to maintain a positive therapeutic experience during that time. So like that 45 minutes, kind of you was able to give them that time to kind of play a little bit and whatnot. But a 30-minute timeframe allows them to really focus on what they needed to do in a fun and challenging way. So I think the adaptability and kind of be teaching ourselves that there are other ways we may have had this idea and thought in our mind, and we may have had it for the past five years. But there are other ways or other ways to think about the same thing. And it’s kind of like teaching an old dog new, an old dog new tricks. What I realized is I think I was an old dog. And I think I needed to learn how to change the way I thought about things. And what I’m really loving right now is that we are a network, we are able to access so many more people. And that is amazing. That is just, you know, truly just gold. But meanwhile, we haven’t reduced our quality of care. And if people see our reviews, they also can see how much we’ve invested ourselves and our therapists have invested in themselves in that. And that would have only happened if we were able to adjust our mindset and how we deliver care. So that’s how we kind of adjusted through COVID. And, you know, with COVID, to, you know, it wasn’t, as you probably know, Ryan, it was tough. I mean, a lot of our parents and families were not comfortable coming into the clinic, we had to furlough some of our therapists. But I think in the end, how you treat the people who work for you, is what comes back to you because all of our therapists came back. And they all accepted a lower compensation during COVID. And I mean, I get emotional about it, because it makes me realize that all of that positive energy that you put out there, comes back to you in whatever form and you may not see it, but it will in some way. And you know, COVID has definitely shown us that it’s how we are as mentors and entrepreneurs and bosses that our therapists also appreciate the way we work and the way we treat them, and they’re willing to ride it until they can get back to where they were, but still be honorable to us, which was really nice to say,

Ryan  

I’m a big believer in karma too, like we said, what you put out comes back may take a while and maybe in a different form than you expect. But it sounds like the Mental Toughness started before COVID Because you had to learn to adapt with taking insurance. And that kind of just slid into COVID. So I like the fact you mentioned you learn to adapt, which so many of so many businesses had to be looked at the restaurants like all the time, you know, becoming experts in outdoor seating. It’s just incredible.

Poonam  

Mm-hmm. Yeah, you know, it almost is though, you know, the universe was like, you know, you all are just so set in your ways to shake it up a little bit. And maybe you need to kind of get out of your comfort zone. But I’ll tell you, the COVID definitely took me out of my comfort zone. I mean, just on a personal level I’m someone who just gets energy from other people. And when you tell me that I can’t see another person or, you know, get close to them or get you to know, hug them or whatnot. It was for me that was really difficult. So I needed to rely on myself, which I don’t necessarily do I think I Yes. Do I work out? Yes. Do I take myself to the limit? Yeah, so I learned from that, absolutely. But where I enjoy and where I really grass is from other people. And when they’re positive and we’re having a great relationship and enjoying each other’s company. That’s where I really thrive. So, you know, that year or since more than a year and even still a little bit? It’s, I’ve learned to really adjust the way I think about things. And when the pandemic started my kid and you know, right, so you’re gonna grasp on whoever’s around you. So I really think my family was like, Oh, my God, please go away. Because I was all on that. Like, I would go into my kid’s rooms every second. I was asking my husband what he was doing every minute and like, you know, he’s got work so I really bothered him all the time. But even my children who are 10 and 12, I would say, Come on, let’s go for a hike and let’s do this and anything that I can do, outdoorsy that would get me out of my home, in a safe environment, but then at least have somebody whether my kids and my husband or whatnot. And my husband already said no while back, so I’ve been I was like, pushing on my kids. And they even said, okay, Mom, why don’t you do a workout, and then you’ll feel better. So it’s interesting, by the end, I mean, after seven to nine months, what I realized, and it took me this long is that I should just rely on myself, I don’t need people to come with me, I don’t need my kids to follow me not to force them. I mean, I can go on a hike, I can go for a walk, I can do all these things by myself. So it was literally it was like kind of a rite of passage for me, I went to buy the GW bridge by myself. And there’s a beautiful hike that you can take. And I did that. And it was a good like three to four hours of the day that I was by myself. And what I realized, was remarkable was that I was okay, I didn’t need someone to bounce ideas off, I didn’t need to talk, I didn’t need to fill the space, it was okay to be by myself in that space. So, for me, COVID really helped me to understand, you know, I don’t always need to be around people. Now granted, of course, you know, now things are opening up, and I’m super excited. And I can be friends again. But I really, you know, learning that has helped me tremendously, because I’m not going to try to gravitate onto someone else to suck their energy, I can create my own energy. And that was a big life lesson for me.

Ryan  

Sounds like a rebirth.

Poonam 

So I must have known this a really long time ago to be on it. But you know, sometimes it takes a kind of reevaluation, right? When you’re in your own space, and you have no one around you, you have to kind of shed all those layers. Kind of introspect. So it allowed me to do that. Which is, which was a blessing.

Ryan  

Yeah, absolutely. So I’ve got one last question for you to put on and then we can wrap up with you telling everyone how they can learn more about you if they want to connect with you. This may have changed in the last 18 months. And you kind of already started talking about this a little bit. So it’s nice, a nice transition into this question. The meaning of life, what is the meaning of life? In your opinion?

Poonam 

Oh, gosh, that’s a tough one. Ryan, I would say the meaning of life is really so independent to each person, I guess, if you don’t mind, I’ll just go to you know, like, to me equates finding your happiness. And I would say that happiness is not anything to be sought out. It’s something to live in. So I think being content in the present, whether you’re doing hard things are the fun thing, embracing each minute, you know, we’re really lucky to be in this life, to have whole bodies to have good health. I mean, I’m surrounded by, you know, we’re doing what I do children with issues and families, we’re struggling. And every day, we have to remember, this is all a gift. So the meaning of life, I would just say seek happiness wherever you can, because everything’s transient. And this is just something we need to move with and not against. Well, the answer is to seek happiness.

Ryan  

That’s a common call in the background.

Poonam 

Do you have to get it? No, I don’t. I just don’t have to shut it up.

Ryan 

You do this live on the podcast and I’ll keep this already put on this is great. What’s the best way that someone can connect with you if they want to learn more?

Poonam  

If you go to my website, www.infinitetherapysolutions.org. You could find all of our information but in addition, if you want to email me it’s info@infinitetherapysolutions.org And I would be happy to connect with anybody. 

Ryan

Perfect. Thanks.

Poonam

Thanks, Ryan. This was fun. 

Ryan

Likewise.

Ryan  

Thanks for listening to the morning upgrade podcast. Please subscribe and review. And don’t forget to visit us at morningupgrade.com for more content.

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