To complement “Brand Your Business: Three Steps to Forging a Professional Path” in the May 2015 issue of MASSAGE Magazine. Summary: Making a list of the people in your field you admire, then emulating the steps they have taken to achieve success, is a way to advance in your career while also preparing to forge your own unique path.  

Whether you run an established massage therapy practice or are just starting out in the field, you can probably think of people who are already living your dream: Doing things you aspire to do and being the kind of people you one day hope to be. Just like business plans and dream boards, making a list of people who inspire you will help you be more like them, and get you closer to the goals you want to achieve. Here’s how to surround yourself with those who inspire you—and still create your own brand of success.

Make a list of people you admire

Include other massage therapists and owners of massage therapy businesses. Add relatives, friends, acquaintances, neighbors, colleagues, peers and celebrities you admire. Beside each name, write down what each does for a living or, if retired, what field each was in before retirement.

Next, note the reasons you admire each of the people on your list. Perhaps they make sound business decisions; are idea people; are millionaires; are dependable, trustworthy or philanthropic; are selfless or kind; are spiritual; are creative; are generous, funny or forgiving; or are flexible and easy to be around. Identify what it is—specifically—you find admirable about each person on your list, so you can begin to identify those qualities within yourself.

Look closer

Now that you have your detailed list of all the people you admire, take a closer look at your list and decide if each person is someone you truly want to emulate.

For example: Does he own five lucrative, hugely successful massage therapy locations, but he hasn’t taken a vacation in a decade? Does she volunteer her time participating in all sorts of community events and activities, yet she’s been renting a tiny apartment for years? Has he published several books about massage therapy, done speaking tours, and created new TV commercials every month, but doesn’t seem to have any time for his spouse and kids? Is she able to work normal business hours, enjoy time with her family and friends, and have a joyful and meaningful personal and professional life?

While you might admire the most financially successful massage therapist in your industry, perhaps when you take a closer look you’ll discover he’s been divorced several times and is in a ton of debt. Not everyone is as he seems; look at the whole picture before you decide you want to be just like someone else. 

Choose your Top 3

While you can certainly still admire certain qualities, work ethics and character traits of everyone on your list, pick the three people whose personal and professional lives most succinctly match what you imagine for yourself. 

If you want a big family and to run a successful massage therapy practice, the top three people on your list should not all be single jet-setters who hire people to run their offices. If you want to be involved in the community and of service to others beyond your clients, the top three on your list should also reflect those actions in their own lives.

Identify their steps to success

It is difficult to duplicate the success of other people if you have no idea how they got where they are. Meet with, interview or read about the top three people on your list and identify the paths they took that led them to be outstanding in their lives. For example:

  • Did they earn advanced degrees?
  • Did they open multiple massage therapy locations?
  • Did they go into business with partners?
  • Do they have websites they update on a regular basis that attract new clients?
  • Did they secure investors to help them launch their first practices?
  • Did they connect with vendors to sell candles, music CDs, therapeutic pillows and other stress-reducing products at their practices?

Figure out the steps the people you admire took. Discover as much as you can about their personal and professional journeys that led them to a place you’d like to be. Follow their tracks as far as you can, then set off on your own path.

Venture off the path

Don’t plan—or expect—to follow the exact paths of those you admire. It just cannot be done, so there is no use worrying when you find yourself straying from their routes.

If a person you admire gives lectures, participates in conferences, and publishes an industry magazine twice a year—those are things you can do, too. If, however, one of the massage therapists you admire has her practice open six days a week and you’re not willing to do that, you don’t have to. You can still provide exceptional client service and earn a wonderful income working four days a week.

Be inspired and influenced by those you admire, then combine that with your own personal style, skills and aspirations. You are your own person with your own experiences, personality, quirks, strangeness and charm. Embrace them.

Mark VolkmannAbout the Author

Mark Volkmann is a 30-year massage veteran, the founder of Massage Warehouse and the current CEO of, a scheduling and automated marketing solution for professional massage therapists. He wrote the article “Brand Your Business: Three Steps to Forging a Professional Path” in the May 2015 issue of MASSAGE Magazine.