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Creating Your $175k Napkin

feel live Sep 07, 2020

Let's start with the story of Picasso's napkin:

A woman once saw Picasso doodle on a napkin in a restaurant and she went over to his table and asked him how much she would have to pay to have the napkin.  Picasso said, '$20,000'.  She responded, 'What?!?.  But it only took you five minutes to do it'.  He replied, 'No madam, it took me a lifetime.'

This story can be heard in relation to either value, or to investment.

My earlier self felt the need to justify what I charged in comparison to the time and skill I offered a client.  As therapy professionals, the model of reimbursement drives the initial perspective of justifying our value, our worth.

'I've worked hard for 19 years of education and training and I have a DPT, therefore my value is (fill in the blank).'

Having insurance companies reimburse as little as $50/visit, which many times is less than what a non-licensed professional earns, just strengthens our grip on that value belief.  Being nearly 20 years post graduation, I've definitely felt every emotion around the financial challenges we face in order to serve our communities.  


The end result of Picasso's napkin masterpiece did not occur at the early or middle stages of his artistic life.  The investment, passion, commitment and struggles he endured early shaped every aspect of his artistic genius.  All resulting in his ability to charge $20,000 ($175,000 with inflation) for a napkin!

I realized that the initial 'value' perspective I held relied on others to define my worth, and focused on the past journey of my growth.  Neither of these would guide me to the future that I seek.  Since, I've transformed my beliefs into furthering my commitment and investment into mastering my skill set, and creating my own future.

So today what I hear in that story...   An entire life is full of opportunity to master and create.

This provides a sense of freedom in Picasso's story, rather than a need to justify.  For many of my clients, this freedom allows them to:

  • Discover creative sides of themselves
  • Boldly asking for something
  • Re-define where they give your time, energy and resources to
  • Find clarity in what makes in on their project or priority list
  • Create their own versions of therapy service
  • Say no

When I was an employee of other organizations, I always exceeded my continuing education benefit as I had a thirst for knowledge and I was curious about the less common avenues in which we could make a difference.  At the time, my choices were fueling myself in the moment need.  Looking back, those choices were the foundation for my own version of a $175k napkin.

Currently in my clinic I charge over $200 for a session.  Therapists I coach often ask what I say when someone tells me that my rate is too high or he or she can find someone cheaper to do what I do, I nod, smile, and say, 'I don’t compete on price; I compete on quality and results'.  I'm confident in my experience, acumen, diversity, agility, creativity and humility.

My current level of commitment, passion and investment...

  • Participate in 6-10 courses per year, with an investment of over $10k annually
  • Part of a weekly paid mastermind group
  • $12k annual investment for professional coach
  • Learn from mentors in their 60s and 70s, as well as those in their 20s and 30s
  • Teach and mentor across 3 different forums
  • Read daily for 2-3 hours
  • Selectively consume meaningful content
  • Network with thought leaders and positive disruptors

This is my foundation for what a lifetime of opportunity and creating will build for me.

Notice the evolution from graduate school, the enduring nature of that investment and the commitment to level up.

Those who are just starting out, I recommend acknowledging your experience, your areas for growth balanced by the benefit they bring, and more importantly, your need to demonstrate a hunger to learn and be humbled by your education, and not just that of the past.  The rewards will be the freedom to create, and possibly a $175k napkin!

Those who have been in the trenches, I recommend honoring who you are by connecting with a mentor who will ask you the difficult questions.  The questions that will provide clarity to what you need, the questions to provide the courage to step into that space, and the questions to encourage you to commit to the future you desire.

As always, think differently.




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