SLP Toolkit Podcast, Episode 47, Transcript
Well, Hey Lisa.
How are you today?
Oh, no, I, I wanna know how you are doing today. You go first.
Well, right now I'm a little frustrated because this is take 334 because we just had hiccup after hiccup. And so normally you and I sit and kind of shoot the shit for a minute before we get ready to like, do the podcast, but I don't wanna talk to you anymore cuz we've just done it three hundred times.
Especially coming from a perspective of our podcast is a one and done. We don't have takes, it's just recording whatever comes out. So for us to be on our third try of trying to do this podcast. I'm over it too. Shannon, it's been great talking to you, this is the end of our episode. Thank you.
Oh my gosh. It's so annoying. And so, okay. So we do have a guest in the podcast. Uh, Lisa just mentioned Shannon's here. And so I told Shannon, I go, "Hey, you know, we always just kind of do some small talk first." Um, and then we, we just did it so many times, but now I realize none of you know that. So Lisa, what were we talking about before we had to rerecord for the fifth time?
Actually, this is a fun topic. We are based in the Phoenix, Arizona area. So we are three and a half hours by car to a gorgeous beach in Mexico. So we did it. We made a run for the border Friday after school and came back, um, Sunday afternoon. It was just a quick two night turnaround, but just a beautiful view. Almost got killed by coyotes. Oh no, that was just me.
That was just you.
Um, what else?
I dunno. No, it was so amazing. Super impromptu. It was literally like I called Lisa Wednesday and I'm like, "Hey, you wanna go to Rocky Point?" She's like, "Yep." And I'm like, "Cool. Let's just go." And it was super awesome. We did work a little bit. It was the first time we'd seen each other in a really long time, at least, I mean weeks and weeks. I was just talking to Shannon about it. Like we don't technically work together that much cuz we're on two very different teams. Um, and so it's very weird. And then we hosted our first Summits solo in 12 Summits. You and I have never sat, not, not sat together and hosted. Um, so that was kind of weird.
And it was a lot of personal... I kept getting scared cuz you're usually the one that, that sets up all the tech and it's not like it's hard per se, but it's just, I didn't wanna mess up summit. It was the first day. It was the kickoff of summit. So I made Sarah write me a little checklist of like, you know, SLP Summit Tech for dummies. I was the dummy.
And I did it.
But no, you did it. It was awesome. It was a great summit. And anyway, I feel like we're finally getting back in the swing of things and we're kicking off a brand new podcast, um, episode for 2022. So introduce our guest.
Um, well as we already have given a little teaser: Shannon from Speechy Musings and Shannon is just one of those people that I admire in so many ways. I love the content that she puts out. I love following her IG. And then we actually got to meet her IL on our trip to Ghana a few years back with Smiles for Speech. And it was just good times and shenanigans and service and like all kinds of cool stuff that we got to experience together. So since then we have roped her into the confessional to chat with us today. So welcome, Shannon.
Thank you. So excited to be here. So excited to make this finally happen.
Yes. Well, and actually this is technically take 9,486 because we recorded a podcast episode with you in Ghana. It was so good. And like Lisa mentioned earlier, like we just, this is like one and done, unscripted. We just go and we had the greatest conversation with you. Loved it. I go to release it and it's gone. Like I cannot find it to save me, like save my life. Like literally deleted the episode. And so why it's taken us what almost two years to get you back in the confessional probably cuz you're like, I'm not recording with you guys. What a waste of time.
I have, I have a theory of how it was lost. And my theory is two words: Club Beer.
That's a likely explanation of what, what occurred. It was a really good conversation though. Club Beer gave us a really good inspiration.
Speaking of Club Beer, uh, this is a fine lager that they seem to only sell in the Ghana area. And so if anybody knows how to export that to the United States, um, hit us up at podcast at SLP Toolkit dot com.
I did see you can get it if you're like in New York or somewhere on the east coast, there's certain bars that will serve it. But he, I really, I, I looked a couple weeks ago actually, before Christmas. I was gonna get you a little, uh, a little container of Club Beer, but I could not find any way to get it to Arizona. So, oh well.
Yes, you're right there. There probably was some drinking. I probably didn't even hit record. It could have happened.
It was all in our imagination. Yes.
Speaker 3 (05:36):
I mean that was, that was a trip. I mean I still can't believe it's been, it hasn't been two years since we went on that.
It's been two years of COVID.
Oh yeah. So it's been two and a half.
Yeah, that was almost three.
Yeah. That was a hard, hard, but highly rewarding, amazing trip. I still think about it all the time and you're right. That's like when we became even more besties, we, we were social media besties and I think we had seen you at ASHAs or, or something like that, but that was like two weeks.
All day long together and we bonded.
Yes, solidified the best friend status for sure. That's right.
No, but I think what's cool is that now, definitely, you're gonna have to talk to our listeners about what, where you're even broadcasting from at the moment, but um, because of where you're broadcasting from, we've gotten to see you after Ghana, you've made some trips to AZ and we've gotten to hang out even more. So tell us about your fancy office space right now.
Yes. I'm in a very fancy office space. So I currently live in an Airstream trailer. Um, when COVID hit, my husband was working in tech and went fully remote. I was working three part-time jobs in speech that I lost all of them overnight. They didn't want people in and out of the facilities during COVID. Um, so I went full-time with Speechy Musings then, and we decided why sit at home all winter in Wisconsin, um, where we grew up and we're from, and we bought a trailer and moved in full-time and so we've been traveling around, um, and I've been doing Speechy Musings full-time, some volunteer work in the speech world, but mostly that. So it's been awesome. A Super good side effect has been able to, you know, be seeing people during COVID when not everyone is able to travel. And I don't know, see people that are further away as often. It's been very nice. So Arizona is one of our favorite wintering places to stay warm during the dead of winter. So it's been a really fun time seeing you guys so much. I'm headed back next month too. Oh, and right now you asked where I was I'm in, um, Paso Robles, California. So it's like wine country between San Francisco and LA.
I know, it's so hard.
Poor Shannon, all that wine.
Yeah. It's a hard life she lives.
No, but it has been so fun to watch your, um, this experience. I mean, first of all, how cool that you both have that flexibility to be able to do this. Um, I don't think everybody, I mean, even my husband's working at home, but I don't think he's allowed to just take off in an Airstream. I think he's gotta be still in the state. I don't know. I, I guess we never even worked that detail out.
We do have to be in the States. That's our limiting. That's how you, say, going to Mexico? So many RVers go to Mexico. We're sort of like we could for a week under a week off, but, um, we are limited to the States,
Okay. And it had been, you've been to Utah and California and Colorado and Arizona. And did I miss anything?
Um, no, that's it so far. Other than the trip out there, um, we did like some of the Midwest on the way out from Wisconsin. Um, and then this year we'll also hit New Mexico, but we have not been there yet.
Well, it is super, super cool. And I think, um, it's not all vacation though. Like you guys are both working.
The whole time.
Yes. We're both working full time. Um, so I mean, it is amazing, but we are in a very small space. We've learned how to make our own wi-fi signal. We have to manage all of our water and you know, we're living and we have two big dogs, so we're all four of us in a 30 foot trailer, um, all day. So it's, I love it, but it is definitely not for everyone. There is a huge learning curve. I work most days like in bed with the dogs on me or like standing on the counters or, you know, it's, it's, um, there's, there's pros and cons to everything, but this is definitely working really well for us right now for, um, work-life balance.
Well, and you don't have human children. You have the two big dogs. So I think that makes a difference that, you know, kind of the space you are in your life. But I think that there are a lot of opportunities for SLPs right now because of COVID and people leaning into all of the technology that this is not just isolated to somebody working, um, business-wise as an SLP. This is something that I think even teletherapists, if this sounds like it's something fun that they could—.
A hundred percent.
Take on. If they wanna take on all of the, like you said, those challenges of it seems glamorous and it is cool, but there's gotta be some things where you're like, all right, let, this is enough.
For sure. And um, I hear SLP living in RVs who do travel therapy as well. So you just work short-term stints like cover maternity leaves, and then you would do that seasonally in places that are nice weather. So California has so many, um, travel SLP jobs and availability. So that's, you know, that's a, a great place to winter and be warm and then you can go other places, other seasons. Um, and I know people doing that right now out of an RV. If you just still wanna work a traditional, you know, in-person job, you could just do travel ones and explore different parts of the country while you do that or teletherapy, which has totally opened up a ballgame to, um, for people to be able to do more closer to what I do where I work out of the trailer as well. Yeah. So many options.
So many options. And I think that's the thing, even when I picked this career initially, um, I had had both my kids by that point, knew that I needed that flexibility. And so I, I chose to work in the schools. One, I loved the setting, but two, of course I wanted the same breaks and summers off with my kids. Um, and so the flexibility of our job has always been there where you can pick the settings that work for you. You could do private, you could do, you know, whatever you need to do to make it work. Um, but I, we were talking about this earlier. There's also been, and I'm seeing it more and more. The, especially the school-based roles, I shouldn't say, especially, especially, it's just the only one I know. And it's kind of the, um, people that we tend to hang out with are all school-based SLPs This last couple years has been really, really hard. It, I think being in the schools is so challenging in a lot of ways anyway, but then with everything that's been going on, I'm just seeing a lot more people just burnt out, done, you know, questioning their, their career choice in general. And so I thought this was a great opportunity for us to have conversations about what else we can do. Um, you know, we talk about all the time. We need amazing clinicians in the schools. I loved working in the schools and I miss it. A lot of, a lot of times I wanna go back. Um, but we found something where we wanted to create a solution to a problem we found. Um, and so there are opportunities out there and it doesn't have to be creating an app, um, or being a, a creator, like you said. It could be teletherapy. But I wanted to talk to you a little bit about what it looks like, um, kind of what your day looks like, what it is you do. We always talk about your materials are by far our favorite, because they're so well done and researched and thoughtful. And anyway, I just thought that this is a cool opportunity to have a conversation with a creator, um, who is making a real impact in this field and what that looks like if people are trying to find something else to do, because they they're, they're overwhelmed by the day to day.
Yeah. And I totally agree with you. I loved the schools, um, and I was in the schools up until when COVID hit and part-time sort of exploded. Um, it just becomes too much with, you know, Speechy Musings. I'm sure you feel the same with doing all things SLP Toolkit. Um, so I, I feel like what my day to day looks like could be totally different than what someone else's looks like. But for me, what it's sort of evolved into lately, you know, in the past, I guess, year where this has been like full time, um, I mean, I'm still doing all my product creation pretty much myself. Um, just as if I was a team level, just to be totally transparent with sort of like the setup of Speechy Musings. I have two, um, assistants that help. Um, one helps me with product creation and one helps more with like social, um, media, but a typical day for me... Oh, it's so hard to say a typical day. I'm actually just sort of trying to think. It is all over the place. But I mean, things that I do every week would be read a ton of research. I'm obsessed with reading research. It's like actually one of the big things I've had more time to do since not being in the school and balancing, like working in the schools, Speechy Musings, having a life outside of speech. So now, you know, I, I do actually read a lot, um, even textbooks, which are, I don't know, maybe a little drier, but there's, there's some good textbooks out there in the speech world. So, and I take a lot of like CEU courses from other providers. Um, even drafting a resource, I think, probably is underestimated how long it takes... it takes me. So I'm working on a new resource right now. And I, I would say about four days last week, I just worked on drafting page layouts, getting all of my ideas out. Um, I have like lists from when I worked as an SLP of all the products. I wanted to see all the things that were, you know, not out there, all the gaps of like intervention approaches, um, and sort of with my style in mind. Um, so I sort of go through them one at a time, but last week I started, it took me about four days just to get kind of like what I want a page to look like. So I have all these like research based notes from the last like year on this topic. I have all my notes from when I targeted it. And then it takes me almost a week to like lay out a product and then this week I might work on, I mean, even more, getting it more and more fleshed out. So I might make levels or hierarchies or tie in like research based skills from articles I've read or start pulling in different visuals or strategies and skills. Um, so that is like the bulk of a lot of time. But, you know, if I'm actually looking at what I'm doing day to day, I mean, a lot of it is email, responding to emails and messages and, um, managing, you know, my team, um, creating like page layouts. And I do spend a lot of time actually going, I'm always working on revising old product at the same time, just to keep everything up to date the best I can. So I have got that usually. And sometime in my week, I go back through and make lists for how to improve look at customer feedback, what sorts of things I can update. Um, yeah, I don't know. It is all over the place, but it is like full on full time. Um, probably more than full time lately. And just a lot of it is reading research and like really spending the time on like intentional product design, like how I want pages to look how I want things to flow, how I want levels to be. Um, and so on. Hope that sort of answers your question.
No, it was perfect. And I think, I think you totally nailed it too, that this is the piece where it's the one thing to have the creative energy, um, and you know, kind of inspiration to constantly create new things in it itself is exhausting. And then, and then the process of creation, I know how overwhelming and time consuming that is, but then there's the running the business piece. And I think a lot of us forget about that. Lisa, I always think about that meeting we had with Paul. Do you remember our, when we met with Boundless, who was, uh, developing the app for us at the beginning? Um, what he had said to us?
Yeah, our very first meeting with him when he was even trying to decide if we were a fit for them and, and vice versa, he was like, "Why are you guys going into business?" And we had already done kind of our pitch of what we wanted to create and the probably we wanted to solve. And he asked that. And so we're, I was just gonna thinking like, we already just spent like how much time to telling you why we're going into business. And so we started to tell him, you know, that solution again, he goes, no, no, no, no, no, that's not what I'm asking. Going into business is so hard. And it's, so there's so many layers to it. Why do you want to do that? Like, you know, basically like, have you thought through what this is? And so of course we had not. Like, I mean, I still think about even then, it was like, well, build this beautiful app with all of this awesome content and here you go, world, it's gonna sell itself.
We're gonna sit back. Go to Mexico more frequently. No, I'm just kidding. No, but it really is like, I think we kind of got whiplash and, and when it's finally, like, as, as you just sort of snowball into how that business develops and then you're, you need more humans to do things because you realize you can't do it all yourself. And then there's management aspects where you're like, I went to school, like I maybe supervised a student or an SLPA or mentor to CF, but to manage a team of people and to have a direction for a division of a company, it's just, these are things that we are discovering still to this day. And we've had a lot of great support along the way, but it is business is different than, you know, the creative and it's not always as fun. Yeah.
Like you talked about, so there's answering emails, so you've got customer support side of things. You've got marketing, we're not marketers, we've got sales, we've got dev, um, you know, we've got the whole product team. Um, it is it's, it's, it is a lot and fortunately, like, I've got Lisa so that like, you know, and she's really strong where I'm weak and I, you know, and vice versa. And then plus I just have her so I can whine and complain and cry when I'm overwhelmed or exhausted, you know, you know? Yeah. Um, but you're doing this solo and you have been like, first of all, when did you start Speechy Musings?
Um, just over nine years of ago. I'm like in the ninth year. Yeah. I know. That's amazing. I, I envy the partnership you both have, because I do feel like that that would be so nice. I do feel like I can get caught up in like indecision and like overthinking decisions and yeah, there are times, I mean, that's part of the reason I even got a team. I feel like I have very little interest in management and I do feel like that's sort of a personal weakness of mine, but there did come a time where I realized that constantly expecting myself to be on, year round, 365, be able to respond to every single thing and handle everything that came up. And actually the team growth happened when COVID hit, because I think SLPs were looking for more digital resources than ever. And my email inbox just like blew up in a way where I could have just answered emails almost all week and answered like DMs of questions. And it's like, I have all this creative energy, like drafting products is like my favorite thing ever. Like last week, beginning to spend time to like create a new resource is my favorite. So I started to realize like, it, isn't only a good is this, isn't just having all of these ideas and like making fun things. And it's, you know, the, the bigger you get, the more time you spend on things that like aren't product creation, that aren't kind of the front facing business things. And then you get caught up in a lot more like answering emails and it, like you said, emails, but it's like emails, DMS, questions and answers in my store, comments on pos—like, and then I have three email addresses, my help and my support and my regular and my, you know, it's, it, it... Even email or responding to customers sounds like one thing, but in reality, it's like 10 things or 10 places I have to check. Um, so yeah, that did actually force me to... That sort of explosion of communication, I guess in general, um, pushed me to get a team, but it is, it is really hard. It's hard to be creative year round and it's hard to, um. Yeah. Have that energy to keep responding to everything and stuff without sort of that support. So that's been really clutch for me, for sure.
Yeah. And I think, I think the one thing that, that, and maybe it is just our personalities, a lot of us are very similar in our, our personalities, those of us in this field. Um, but we do think we have to know it all right now and we have to be really great at all of it right now. Or then it's like, you know, I like, I can't do this. It's too overwhelming. Yeah. Um, and so that is the key is like, if you've got an idea and here's the difference, you can have just lots of cool ideas and that part's great, but you know, obviously they, they need action in order to come to life. And if you don't wanna do that, that's also okay. But if you have the idea and the desire to bring it to life and put some action behind it, you don't have to, to do all those crazy things we just said.
Right from the, the get go.
Like, like, like the it's, it's a learning curve. Lisa and I just have celebrated our sixth anniversary with SLP Toolkit.
And we, and we had worked together the year before that. So we've been in business seven years. And I will tell you this last year by far has been the first time where I'm like, we're like a legit business. Like we, I mean, not that we still don't know everything we're doing, but like, we, we feel like little more grown up and mature, you know, but it took seven years to get to our six years to get to that place where we started to have confidence in our roles and what we were doing. Um, and so I never want people to be like deterred by all of the learning curve that comes with doing something like, like this. Um, and so like when you started out, was it really like, maybe tell us a little bit about why, why, you know, you started creating materials. I mean, I, I have a feeling it's the same reason why any of us do, um, but then kind of like, how did you start, uh, the process, or kind of, what do you think the important thing you need to do if you really want to, um, not only create, but then sell what you are, what you're making?
So I started in grad school. Um, I don't know a lot of people think that that's so interesting to start sharing out ideas when you're learning ideas, but I was an SLPA in undergrad. I was really in the speech world prior to that. So I think I sort of felt like I had stuff to share. Um, so I started creating just freebies, really easy stuff. This was like pre clip art pre like everything being really easy to find. And, um, so I started just making, like, I, I think one of the first things I made was like, I, artic... 10 quick articulation activities. And I made little tiny cards with pictures on them of different artic targets and like 10 games you could play with super tiny cards. Um, literally, and that, that was before the cards really easy to find. So I think a lot of people just wanted to print that quick thing off. Um, so it literally started so small and I'll also say on the topic of getting started, like, you know, I get emails like every day probably now of people wanting me to like, do something else, make a membership, make a product for this, do this thing. And so, like, I feel like even now year nine, I'm still having to like really go small. Like, say, like, I can't do everything. Like you just didn't say no to so much, even on year nine, I feel like I'm still not to the place where I can like take on a lot of big ideas. Um, so I mean, I started really small. Like I literally started with a tiny blog, like three free activities and like artic ideas. And I think the why is twofold. I think I was a little, I don't know, bored is the right word, cause it was grad school, but I moved really far away from home. And I feel like I just like creative energy stirring up in there and just like needed like something to sort of like a passion project, something fun to do. Um, I also feel like I just have a lot of creative energy, a lot of ideas. Um, I still... still have a lot of ideas, so I think, yeah, I just wanted to share out kind of like the way I was making therapy fun, making it easy. Um, and it evolved into what it is now, but I'm with you. I feel like starting super small, not seeing like even now I have this issue, like I just said a membership site and sometimes I think I ought make a membership site and then my brain gets so overwhelmed with thinking like, "What tech will I use? How will I lay it out?" And it's so easy to like do nothing because it's so easy to just be overwhelmed with like the perfect vision of the thing you wanna create and this like, you know, how it's just gonna be totally like awesome and great. And then it's like actually making all those steps happen can be sort of intimidating. So I don't know. I think I'm really good at staying small, starting small, focusing on like actually what me is a single human with two part-time VAs can really accomplish and do well, you know, I don't wanna just like, uh, crank out stuff. That's like really, um, the opposite of my style. I spend like a year on most resources from start to end. Um, so yeah, hopefully that goes through the starting, but like I'm full, full on like start small, just do you can do, like if you don't even start on social, just start with like good ideas, start putting things out there. Um, cuz it can be intimidating even on year nine. I'm like intimidated by, by ideas I have and things I wanna create.
And that idea of the amount of thought and time and research that go into your products, I think that's something that kind of gets glossed over because like with anything that is done super well, it looks seamless to the observer like, "Oh, this is so cool." And I could do this because it's like, I always joke with Sarah, I took ballet fitness courses once or ballet, like the barre classes. And I was like, oh my God, I have so much respect for ballerinas now just because I'm doing a 45 minute workout. And I see like the muscles I'm using in these stupid little, what their warmup would be. Like, and I'm so sore. So I think when you see like a finished product like yours, that is just so executed so well that it's, it, it may feel easy. Like, Hey, I can just create those, but that's why I like that idea of start small, start with what you're passionate about, what you like to research and make sure that what you're putting out there is quality because the quality will sell. Like it, it, but there's a lot of, there's a lot of things to kind of, um, distract you in that world. People just kind of throwing things together and putting it on TPT. Um, but maybe not with the same amount of effort going into those resources.
I really think that's probably like my number one differentiator over the last nine years. Um, there has been so many TPT sellers and courses and materials and products and therapy ideas. And I just think like I have focused on doing one thing at a time, focusing so hard on the thing, like my AAC toolkit, I mean probably took three years of like brainstorming, but it probably took a year of like sitting down every day and writing out things and like phrasing things and organizing things. And like there's just so many decisions that go in and I, I truly think just doing one thing and trying to do it really well and then having a list of what to do next and you know, keep, keep on doing. It has been like, I don't wanna say the secret to my success cause that's like, it's putting too much credit on that, but like a big part of my success is focusing.
No, that's huge, the so, I mean, we've gotten so much great advice over the years, but the very early days, um, our development again—Boundless, Paul and Isaac, who now are Team Toolkit. Um, they had talked to us about an MVP. So when we were meeting to discuss kind of what the app was gonna look like, they kept saying, well, you need, what's the MVP, what's the minimal viable product. Like, and so in their minds they're like, cause we're, we're, we're talking school based, uh, you know, so we're thinking preschool through 12th grade and they go, no, no, no, no. MVP. Kindergarten, just start with just preschool. Can we just start with just kindergarten? And we'd say, no, like it doesn't work like that, you know? Or can we just start with just articulation? Can we start with it's like, no. But, but they did make us like have to sit for a minute on just, "Let's just start with data or assessment. Let's just focus on the assessment component." And so we did that first. We did the PLAs and the progress monitoring test, and then we got the goals in there. Then we like way down the road focus just on scheduling and then focus just on data. Um, and so you do, you've got to have just, what is that one tiny piece, um, that you can put out because you're gonna get feedback and you're gonna wanna perfect things and things change. Technology has changed since we launched SLP Toolkit six years ago. Um, and so it is, I think that is the best advice to start small focus on just that one thing and, and until you can really kind of perfect it.
Um, yeah, I think it's true because I I'm with you. I both have said it, not everything is created equal that is out there. Um, and we have a huge responsibility both ethically, um, and just, you know, just as people who are putting things out, um, for other people to make sure that we're putting out quality, very thoughtful materials and, and solutions, um, you know, because first of all, there's so much opportunity in this field because it's so new.
Like there's so much missing. I think you touched on it earlier. You're just, you were creating things because they didn't exist. They still don't exist. So like there's still so much room for people to be out there doing really cool things and solving real problems in our field.
Um, but you've gotta do it ethically and responsibly.
Yeah. And I think that's, that's the one thing on year nine that I still can get fired up about. I mean, you, I feel like there is like a burnout of trying to like put forth like maximum effort. And I will say since COVID hit my hours, everything has gone up a lot. So I'm, you know, I'm a little more like, uh, sucked in into this. There's just a lot more moving pieces and a lot of maybe going full time does this too. But, um, that is the one thing that keeps me going in this field and the motivation is so high. I really do feel like we are on the beginning of figuring out how to do therapy in a sort of an efficient, effective way. And I feel like there is so much technol—I mean, as technology grow, the ideas get easier to develop, easier to implement easy, you know, even just like HP Instant Ink, which is like such a silly thing. But like having a printer subscription has opened up the ability to like, not make photocopies in the staff lounge and like actually have color ink, like opens up a whole thing, boom learning now, you know, having more like digital things. But I still just feel like there's, there's like a thousand gaps in the field of ways of therapy that are not easy to implement, not clear. I mean, there's whole areas that need to be researched, let alone, not just have things created for them, but it's like, yeah, if I, if I look and just see like more wordless for language drill, you know, I'm like, oh, I, gosh, I gotta make something for that, for that target. That's a little bit more, um, meta or, you know, strategy based. Exactly. Yeah. So yeah, that gets me really motivated, seeing all the gaps that, that exist in what we're creating. And my list of making materials like is so long. I'm like I could probably do this until the day I retire and still just be working through the same list.
Well, and you wrote a book too. That was on your list.
Tell us about your book.
I know, I know even that idea, I'm like, um, I could write 10 more books. You have like a series for the whole school here. I wrote a book, um, called searching for home. It's a picture book and it's, it was meant to be wordless, but then I also made three levels of text. So just like an SLP would use a wordless picture book in therapy. I kind of wanted to make my own, that was like meant for speech therapy. And then I own all the graphics and pages and clip art and all the things. So all of the materials, like the sequencing cards and all of that are built in and from the actual book, I always feel like I'm getting these wordless picture and taking them to the photocopier and trying to make like pictures of the pages and pictures of the characters. You know, it wasn't like set up for easy activities and…
Speech work like that, exactly, expansion on that. So I made my own picture book with like, the sole purpose of just being able to create really effective speech therapy activities based on it. So I have a whole narrative unit based on the book, um, all levels, starting in like core vocabulary all the way up to like writing your own parallel story based on this one.
Well, we need an assessment component for that. Cause I think if that's even one of those things that I like word— wordless picture books for assessment, um, purpose evaluations. So I'm gonna need you to get on that, Shannon.
Okay. I'm on it. Um, I actually think it's perfect for assessment. Like even how it is I should create, like, this is what I'll do in SLP Toolkit. I'll create the assessment there.
Here you go.
I just need more forms, but I actually think it would be like the best dynamic assessment tool ever. It, because it has all the levels there for you. It has like vocabulary pulled out with activities, with like visual. Like it's basically like my Speechy Musings store, but all like, all in one book, all in one theme. And then it's outer space related. So I include like outer space nonfiction texts, outer space narrative texts. So you can do everything. But I agree. I, I think it would be like the best dynamic assessment ever. We, we need to get on that. [Unintelligible overlap]
You were supposed to come back to Arizona and we were gonna do a sip and send where we drink some of your wine from Pasa Robles that you're gonna bring. And then we get really drunk and hope that the books make it to whoever ordered them.
OK. You know, that does sound fun. I--I'm currently, so I did, I did, um, ship these books out for a while, but I don't have anymore, unfortunately. Um, now living on the road's too hard, but I know we missed out on the sip and ship of books.
I remember that. I remember. And your mom was helping you.
Yes. My grandma packaged to them all.
Yes. And that was the first time you had done a physical product. Yeah. Um, which is a whole other animal, but, so, so I'm gonna be linking to all of this in the show notes, but so you can still get a digital version of your book though.
Right. Okay. But talk about physical product. I mean, would you do it again?
Um, yeah. Yes and no, I guess yes, I would. It was really hard. It was so hard. Um, I think there's an easier way to do this. This is one of those things where it's like the learning curve is just so massive, so I'm glad I started it, but we bought, so what I shipped actually was, uh, waterproof cards. So it was story cards. Each card was individual. Each page was individual, um, with like a story, grammar, visual and question on the back. And it was in a metal tin with like stickers on the front and back and directions. We bought every single one of those components separate. So like the cards came like we had to grab card one, card two, card three, and then put the sticker on the lid, put the sticker on the bottom, put the instructions inside. So my grandma did that for everyone. And then my mom shipped them. Um, and she, like, she brought a little basket to the post office every day and shipped them all out. Um, so I think if I could figure out how to make the process easier, I would love to go into physical materials. I think so many of mine would make great physical materials. And as an SLP, I, there, I honestly, I'm not like a big print and laminate person for all the printables I sell. Like I don't have the time for that. I'll print black and white and get rid of things, but I would really love to get into physical materials to just make it easier to use these things without printing. But the learning curve, this time was quite hard. I would do it again in the future, but I don't wanna put it all on my poor grandma, um, this time. So, you know, we gotta come over the better system. Um, but I know there are people who do like boxes and they get them wrapped all from like China or different countries. And then like, get them shipped on a pallet. You know, there's probably a whole way to do this, but again, like I'm just a SLP of one person. So I think the learning curve on this one was a little serious, but I think I would do it again.
It is so true product and dis—or production and distribution, and even how many to order and how, where to store them. that is a whole other animal. Yes. And, and of course you can do it and if you want to, I know you'll figure it out, but it is, I think like that's the thing where it's like, it, it, like, I think with Jenny, she, uh, Bjorn Speech she went straight into like product production and distribution. Yes. Um, I don't even think she had a TPT store before she started making the B speech card. She did. So that's insanity to me. And she has got that system figured out and is, is just slaying that side up. Absolutely.
And she does collaboration. So I think, I think that's, what's so cool is she's bringing the people with creative to collab with her to get these materials, um, printed. And she did have I, and I'm, some experience, right? Didn't her husband have some experience or something. So that's part of the niche of experience. And it's, that's the thing is you can learn lots of things or partner with people to get stuff done. Absolutely.
Yeah. I'm, I'm currently, co-authoring a deck with her, so I am doing that with her. So she'll help, um, with all of that. And she was actually just the hugest help with the first physical product. I just didn't really wanna go the route she was going. She was going, cuz I mean, she, you know, she has so many systems in place. Like she has like a pallet unloader, you know, like even that I'm like asking my dad exactly right. We have a way to unload a pallet in our house. Like I, I don't know, you know, my dad's like, I don't know if we should get a pallet on loader. So she was so helpful. And um, I'm also coauthoring going that route with her, um, right now as well, which is really exciting on something for narratives. But um, yeah, she's got that all set up, but it, it is a whole other side of the business and it's to be only one person and set priorities.
It's—That's so genius. So if you were su—I mean, clearly Jenny was passionate about getting her cards produced and then has expanded into letting other people have opportunities to, to collaborate with her. I always feel like, you know, like if that is not like, if you don't wanna put the energy there, then you don't have to, like, everybody has their zone of genius of what they are good at and should spend the bulk of their time creating.
Yeah, for sure. I think if I were to do it again, I think what I really need to do now that I'm like a little bit better at hiring is like hire somebody to manage shipping, production, et cetera. Because I do not think my zone of genius is in that... I'm like really scatterbrained logistics are like very challenging.
Wait a minute.
All of that was very challenging.
Did you just fire your grandma and your mom on podcast?
I mean kinda, kinda, sorry, Grandma. I'm sure they're gonna listen. I'm positive. She did say like, you want me to again, I will. But, sorry, Grandma. I think she made that [crosstalk]
Yeah. Yeah. But I think that's the secret is like finding a zone of genius. Someone whose zone of genius is like calling these companies like calling distribution, figuring out like even packaging could probably take a month per product to just figure out like packaging. And right now I feel like my zone of genius is really like reading research, distilling it, making, uh, well designed resources that package it all. You know, I think that that channel is like my zone of genius. Um, but maybe, maybe I should, should find someone reap—Now you're getting me into this idea. I'm like, maybe I gotta get going on this again. But, um, it was fun, but yes. Put it on my list.
Yep. Yeah. Yep. No. And we we're talking about the collabs. I mean, that was huge for us cause I was thinking back to like, uh, timing is everything. If, if Lisa and I had tried to do this even 10 years ago, Lord knows what would've happened. Um, but you know, we started this like right in a time when social media was a thing and thank goodness there were, there was, our audience was in Facebook groups and on Instagram because, uh, certainly don't have the, the money to do advertisements. And um, we're not gonna make a commercial when our audience is 90,000 SLPs throughout the world.
Yeah. It's very small. It's very small market. I don't know if anybody understands that how small our market is our target audience.
I want a Super Bowl commercial.
Yeah, exactly. Right. Or even like I, people would say go on Shark Tank, what are you—go on Shark Tank and raise money. And I'm like, I don't know if any investor is that interested in a, in our target market audience. I know it's fault. Um, but anyway, and so thank goodness for social media and, and the fact that, you know, we had a place where we could find, uh, we knew, we knew where other SLPs were living and then we are SLPs. So we knew exactly what they needed. You know, it's very different than, um, somebody, we just, we, we just found out there's a, some other person is creating an application that looks a little similar to ours um, but you know, they're not SLPs. There's, you know, and, and, you know, obviously you can still engineer a great product without being there. But after what I learned, I think over the last seven years, more than anything is you have to have a problem, uh, like focused on a problem and, and solving that problem and without being in the trenches, I don't know how you can do that as effectively.
Yeah, I agree. I agree. And I do see more of that happening in the speech world. I think people are other businesses or industries are sort of realizing it's like what we were saying. There's lots of gaps and holes, um, in what services and supports are there, but I am seeing more of, you know, companies coming in and, um, creating speech materials instead of SLPs. And I do think it's important to sort of pair in experience with, like you said, solving a problem. Like, what does your experience tell you about a good way to solve that problem, right.
Yeah. And that, yeah, that domain knowledge, like you just can't fabricate that, you know, mm- like, um, I don't know. So I, I think, and I think that was the whole idea too, is like with it, the, the social media and all of that, um, you know, it's a, that in of itself is a lot of work coming up with the posts and, um, like putting all of that out there, but then putting yourself out there, holy crap. I had an, uh, like a situation even just come up a few weeks ago where I had a full meltdown and I told Lisa, I'm done. I'm not doing this anymore. I can't take it. And it's like one negative, like one baby negative, not even that dramatic. And I literally was like, I don't wanna do this anymore. I wanna go hide under a hole, you know, like I just anyway. And so like, like do you struggle with that then too? I'm guessing. Yeah. Not just me.
Okay. I, I, um, I was just chatting about this with someone else recently, but I feel like in my head, I sort of had like, year one, year, two, year three, it's gonna be like so scary, but I'm gonna like develop this muscle of like putting myself out there. And I just don't believe that anymore. I feel like it actually gets like scarier and scarier as I go. And I feel like I have all these people listening to me and I, I put a lot of like pressure on myself to sharing things that are right and factual and inclusive and appropriate and effective, you know, it's like, I feel like the bigger the audience gets, the more I struggle with what you're saying, where it's like, I don't know. I feel like, I don't know if exposure is the right word, but I do feel like a little exposed. Like I, you know, even like my personal life, like I just share random photos of like my trailer and like, you know, weird things. And I just start questioning like, who thinks something of this? Like, what are people's thoughts? I don't know. I have like a hyperawareness of feedback and what, like the SLP community is thinking about what I'm creating, like more and more and more as I grow for sure.
It's, it can be paralyzing. Me too. I'm an overthinker, period. Not even work. I'm just an overthinker. Like, literally say one thing to me and I will analyze it forever. Side note, anybody watched Up In... What's it called, the sky one? Look Up?
Oh, yes, I did.
My favorite part in that movie is the dumbest little thing, but it's after the, um, general sells her, the stuff from the White House, uh.
Like, make her pay $10 for the snacks in the White House. And then like 10 other times throughout the movie, she brings it up like, but why would he have to sell it? Like why? And I thought, this is my life. This is one event in my life. And like, literally the world's about to blow up from a meteor. And she's still like, why would the general charge me $10 for three snacks? You know? Like, that's my life. I'll do that. Even where like somebody says one thing and like, everything else is happening. I'm like, okay. But like, what are, what are people gonna think about that? Or what did that look like? Or how did I appear? You know, like, anyway, it it's a whole thing. It's very paralyzing. And so we talk about that too, a lot, like with some of the, the people on our team, like you guys have to be really courageous and you have to be willing to put yourselves out there. um, you know, and, and we hope that, you know, it comes across, we are authentically ourselves. We do make mistakes. you know, we're, we definitely have a huge learning curve. Um, well, and that's, it's intimidating.
I think what happens as you grow... So Speechy Musings becomes its own thing. SLP Toolkit becomes its own thing separate from Lisa and Sarah, Speechy Musings separate from Shannon. It's you're bringing more people on board and it's like the bigger your audience gets, maybe it was very personal at first where they are relating to you directly as an SLP and then you become a business. And, you know, it's, it's like, you know, you think of any business that you interact with. It's like, that is, it's a separate thing from the humans. And I think when we get those kind of, of emails that can kind of, you know, hurt your heart a little bit, it is where, like, we're two SLPs that started this because we love this field and we want to make things better. And we do put a lot, like you were just saying, Sarah, a lot of thought goes into everything we do, whether it be products that we create or, um, ways that we comment on social media or courses that we put out or anything. It's not like we just kind of, you know, throw things out there haphazard. So when you do get that feedback, we've gotta kind of like put it in that bucket of, you know, feedback is awesome, even when it is hurtful, because it does make you think, and then it can either reground you in, no, this is like, I stand behind this decision. We stand behind this decision or, wow, that was a blind spot. We do need to do better. We need to think about this in a different way, moving forward.
For sure. And for me, sometimes the hardest feedback to hear is stuff where I feel, um, I don't wanna say, like, I didn't have a choice, but like we're living in an imperfect world. We're often the first people making things. So like someone will say, Hey, could, you could have chosen a better photo for this or a better something. And, you know, I, I spent, um, so I'm making a pronouns resource right now, which has been a lot of careful consideration of how to make it really inclusive and how to make it direct, where it teaches kids, um, what pronouns are and how to use them. But, you know, representative of all sorts of different pronouns and people who maybe don't look like your traditional use of a certain pronouns. So it, it just has taken a lot of care in this. And this is one of those resources where I feel like it points out, uh, weaknesses in the field, not even in our field, but like, it is very hard to find stock images of children that represent like true diversity. And I mean, like not just like different skin colors or different, you know, but like literal all diversity. And so I can look at my resources and it's like, you know, in a perfect world, I would swap three of these photos for these other ones. But it's like, I can't find, like, I don't think that that exists. And I have a very hard time with, with that type of feedback. It's, and it's not even like always feedback from other people, but I can definitely see it. You know, I, I know it in my own brain. I can look at these resources and pick out flaws in, in the things I create, but then feel limited as to like, what is available right now. Part of the reason why I'm always going back and updating things because there's new photos being released every year, but it is really hard to get. I mean probably every single day you're get feedback.
I think when you're making a resource for yourself and your speech room, you can infringe copyright all day long and copy things from Google, Google, and put it in a Word doc or whatever, but this is a resource that's for sale. You are limited to images that are for sale, but maybe..
You gotta buy those stock photos.
Maybe that's part of our, um, contribution too, though, if that, to find that is, is connecting with those companies that provide those and asking for more representation.
Yes. And I, I'm definitely the squeaky wheel for a lot of these people. I feel like I'm contacting, like even clip artists on Teachers Pay Teachers, I'll often contact and ask, like, "Can you make more diversity in these images?" And I have gotten, I feel like there has not been an instance with a smaller company that I've reached out to ask for something and they have not been able to do it. It's, you know, I think photos are actually the hardest cuz you can't just like tweak a color on an image. You have to like actually find the kids and like put them in a studio and like actually do you know these things. But um, yeah, I do think part of it is being like a squeaky wheel, and being like, "Hey, we need better clip art. We need better graphics. We need better photos." Um, but yeah, I, I find that feedback to be, to feel more important. Like the bigger my company gets and like more, uh, pressure on me to like do things right and hear what people are saying. And I mean, I have like a whole feedback, um, note that I sort by topic, all so I can get to things like that in the future too, that I maybe don't have the bandwidth for right now, but it is hard. I feel like it's been like a huge, uh, curve of just like thought work for me, learning how to like manage my mind, calm myself down is like being able to get feedback every day and not take it super personal and try to do better all the while.
Yeah. But, and I, I think that, I mean, we, we could not leave on a better note because that's the key is we talked about this when we started talking about why we love your materials so much is because we see the thought that you're putting into it. Um, and so then even like not just the thought, because you use the research and you're actually, you know, focused on evidence based materials, but also that thought behind the responsibility that comes as we learn more, um, and have and do better. And, and that again, we've got just leaps and bounds of, of opportunity here to, to do better as humans, but also as clinicians and, and creators. Um, and so that's the key is like being genuinely thoughtful and I love what you said. The care that you're putting into that product, um, is so important. And so I, I think, I, I hope this has been interesting and, and inspiring for people. I feel like, you know, it's a new year, new opportunities, you know, um, don't leave the field would be my thing.
Yeah. Stay in the field, stay in the field.
We need amazing people who are, you know, making a huge impact on people's lives. Um, but if you need a, just like a, an outlet or you've got ideas and you wanna bring 'em to life, like I think that your advice was the best start small. Just start actually. Just start right?
Just start. Imperfectly. Imperfectly.
Start imperfectly. Yeah. Yeah. For sure. Oh, Shannon. We could literally talk to you all day long.
Yeah. I'm so glad.
Yeah. We can do a follow up. I'm sure people are gonna have more questions after this episode. Um, but we love you very much and we can't wait to see you next month.
Yes. Love you guys too. Thanks for the interview. Nice chatting.