10 Questions with Dr. Jonathan Horowitz

Hi there, my name is Dr. Jonathan Horowitz, and I am a clinical psychologist. I’m also the founder and CEO of San Francisco Stress and Anxiety Center. We are a psychological consultancy based in San Francisco, and we help individuals and organizations to better deal with stress and promote mental wellness at both the individual level and the company level. We are a private practice, a group practice, with about 50 therapists in the practice.

And we also work directly with organizations to provide a variety of mental illness resources to them. So, yeah, thank you, Uriah, for having me on the podcast today! I really appreciate it. I appreciate the invitation, and I hope that you find this helpful today.

So let me get to these questions.

OK, what do I love about my job or business?

What I love about building this company, building this center, which I’ve been doing for eight years, I started the Stress and Anxiety Center as my private practice back in 2012, what I love most about it, I think, is seeing the development of an organization over time, seeing something tangible where it wasn’t there before.

It’s really the building thing that I enjoy.

When I was doing therapy, which was great and fulfilling and rewarding, it was different.

You know, it’s a lot of 1:1 relationships with individuals, and there’s a sense that when I stop doing this, then this goes away. You know, you’re showing up to work every day, and when you’re not working, nothing’s happening, right?

And after a while, I wanted to do something where I felt like there was a bit of more of a tangible product. And so in developing this, I see that happening.

Part of it is there’s a physical center to what we do, we have a lease, and there’s treatment rooms and things like that. But more importantly, the business is the people and the relationships and the processes and the clients and the client relationships.

And over time, you look at this thing and you go, OK, I can step away from this for a weekend or a week or maybe even a month. And it’s going to just keep doing what it’s doing, and it doesn’t necessarily require me.

It’s this actual “thing” that operates independently.

And when that started to happen, that was really, really exciting and rewarding. It’s like, “wow, this is bigger than me.”

And the decisions I make about it are not about me the way they were right at the beginning when I was just starting out. It’s like, how do you consider how all of these people, all these clients, all these stakeholders are affected? And you say, “wow, there’s really a lot of them involved” and it plays a big role in people’s lives,” and that’s really rewarding.

So, that’s what I love.

What are one or two things I always do in the first 60 minutes of my day?

Well, I always have coffee, and I always do some kind of workout, pretty much no matter what.

I’ll get out there, I’ll go to the gym, or I’ll go for a run. And even if I don’t have much time, I really think it’s important to keep the habit going. And I also notice if I don’t do anything, I feel really tired and sluggish and physically tight in the morning. So I’ll try to do at least a 10 to 15 minute run. And then most days I’ll try to do 30 to 60 minutes of whatever it is before I get started.

And I wasn’t always a morning workout person.

The thought of it used to make me sick. I was like, no way I’m ever doing that. And then at some point, my days got really hectic, and I had to get started. And after about a month of doing it, I was like, yeah, I’m always doing this because I never have to think about it the rest of the day. When am I going to get it in? So I just try and get it, get it done, and feel great all morning.

What is my go to drink or snack for productive energy?

I am a big coffee person and it’s an oldie but goodie, but I have a Nespresso machine and I have a Keurig at home and I try to do that in the morning. I used to drink coffee too, a little too much in the afternoon and then I wouldn’t sleep well at night. And then, I was tired the next day, so I don’t do that anymore.

But just in the morning to get me going, I definitely like some coffee.

My favorite way to rest and recover?

So aside from working out and getting outside, which I’ve already touched on, I play music.

I’m a guitarist and I love doing that. Ideally, I’m playing with other people.

I don’t get to do that enough. But when I do, it’s just the best thing because it’s one of those things. It’s like sports or dancing or something very immediate. You have to be in the moment. You can’t be thinking too much or talking about what you’re trying to accomplish while you’re doing it. You just have to be doing it. And when you do it with people that you enjoy and that you click with, you can get into this really great rapport where time flies by, and you’re all doing this thing together, and you’re focused on trying to pull off this song, and how does it come together and figuring it out.

And it’s just like it’s just a delight. I just I love it.

If I’m not around other people, I’ll try to play by myself. And that’s really enjoyable, too. That’s one of those things that I can just sit down and, before I know it an hour’s gone by and I’m like, well, I’ve got to I got to stop doing this, I got to move on to the next thing!

But I just I get sucked into it. And I think you need that as to have something like that as a counterweight to the kind of work we do, which can be exhausting sometimes. A lot of email and being on the phone and being on the screen and stuff like that, to have something that doesn’t involve any of that and is very physical. I really love that.

Am I a Mac or a PC person?

I am a PC person. And it’s not because of any ideological reason, I don’t know, I found a really high quality PC, a Dell XPS 13 is the one that I have now.

I really, really like it. It’s powerful. Macs are considerably more expensive, I think, for what you get.

And I don’t know that it’s really necessary for what I do. I think of Macs, and maybe this isn’t true, but I think of Macs is being more for like graphic designers or gamers or people that need really high horsepower, visual, beautiful, spiffy kind of equipment.

And I think of my Dell as just this workhorse, it’s like a tool, whereas the Mac is this kind of fancy thing, I guess.

And for whatever reason, I just gravitate toward that more. But I’m not opposed to Macs or anything like that, those are obviously great computers. I have an iPhone and I wouldn’t trade that. You know, I think that’s great.

What is one of the best business books I’ve read?

I’m going to say one of the first ones that I read when I was making the transition from grad student psychologist, mental health person to business owner, and that was Tim Ferriss’s The 4-Hour Workweek. And I know the title sounds a little ridiculous. If you haven’t read it, it sounds like, “whoa, this is just overpromising.” Right? It’s ridiculous. And yet it’s not about that. It’s not like you’re going to work 4 hours.

But it was one of the first books that took business from up here to down here where I could apply it actually in my life.

Before that, I had read books about big organizations or about people like Bill Gates or Elon Musk or like Steve Jobs, like those type of big visionary corporate people who command an army and billions of dollars. And, they were interesting, and these people are fascinating characters, but like, how do you really apply that to what you’re doing in your tiny business where it’s just you?

It didn’t really connect.

So when I read The 4-Hour Workweek, he talks a lot about a lot of very applicable things with very specific resources.

So like this idea, for example, that if you can make $100 an hour doing therapy, and you’re spending an hour stuffing envelopes that you’re going to send out to businesses, and you could pay someone $10 an hour to stuff envelopes, you would be better served by taking on another client, paying someone else that $10, and then taking the $90 to do something else. You can keep it or you can reinvest that in the business.

And it’s such an obvious thing. But before that, as a grad student, there are all these tasks that you probably could offload and pay other people to do, but if you don’t have a budget of your own or your mentor doesn’t have a budget like you, just no one does that. You know what I mean? It’s just not in the culture. It wouldn’t occur to me. And I think most starting therapists are like, “I’m going to do this all myself.”

And it wouldn’t occur to them to spend money on some of these very simple kind of productivity hacks that to someone who has a career in small business or whatever, that would be very intuitive. So once I read that book, I was like, “oh, there are things I can actually do now to start to free up some time.” And then when you start to grow a business, you realize that you need a lot, a lot, a lot of time.

And it’s usually worth spending the time to put a system in place to be able to delegate something that’s time consuming and low value so that you can turn your attention toward the higher value problems and questions and activities, which are also endless.

There’s always more you could do there. So that’s a very basic thing I learned from that book, and that’s why I recommend it to a lot of people.

If I was a hot sauce, what would my spice level be?

You know, I don’t think that’s the most important question because I have a whole bunch of hot sauces in my house. I love hot sauce.

And the thing is, a lot of times are like this one is “slap your mama hot,” or whatever. They try and, like, be really cute. It’s so hot.

And a lot of times the flavor is not that impressive. I’m more about like, what do you want it to taste like? Like what’s a good hot sauce? And the flavor profile is right. Then, you can you can amp that amp up the spice up or down. I don’t know how any of this applies to myself or my personality or my business, but hey, you asked, so that’s my answer. 🙂

Where can people find out more about me and what I do?

You should check out the Stress and Anxiety Center. That is our business. And that’s what I’ve been doing for the past eight years. We are at www.sfstress.com, and I also have a podcast. It’s called Succeed Under Stress at succeedunderstress.com. On that podcast I am interviewing folks who are trying to understand mental illness in organizations. Well, it’s more about stress in general, but also about wellness and stress in organizations.

And, talk to coaches, people like Uriah Guilford who started Productive Therapist, and a lot of interesting characters on there. So check it out. All right. Well, thank you guys so much for having me on. I hope you find this useful. And yeah! it is a cool idea.

Cool, cool show. All right. Thanks. Thanks, y’all.


Oh! And I didn’t see there was a bonus question, too.

OK, what is one of your best tips for success and happiness?

Um, this is going to sound self-serving because I’m somebody who owns a psychological consultancy, basically a therapy practice, right?

But I think therapy and coaching are really great and really helpful.

And that’s why I do this.

I have used those resources for years and I have found that there are so many shortcuts that you can achieve by having a good therapist or a coach, because, especially for someone who struggles with productivity, a lot of times what’s happening is there is a lack of clarity around what you want or what you were trying to do and trying to accomplish at a fundamental level.

And I still fall into this trap with myself of like, “I feel really overwhelmed.”

And it’s not usually that the volume of work is so high. It’s more that my priorities are occluded at that point. When I have a session with a coach or if I meet with a therapist and I can come in with a list and say, these are the things that I am not sure about right now and I want to get straight on them, I want to figure out what’s happening here.

What is the emotional thing that’s standing in the way of me doing this?

If I can’t get something done, it’s like, is there more information that I need?

Is there something I’m scared of doing?

Is there a chance I’m scared of taking?

Do I need to have a conversation with somebody?

A lot of times there are there are solutions that are fairly straightforward when you have a good, productive conversation with somebody else.

Now, it doesn’t have to be a coach or a therapist. You may have mentors, you may have confidants, you may have people in your life that you can bounce things off of. And sometimes that will suffice, sometimes that’s great.

But if you’re talking about really, really difficult questions in your personal life or your business life (and there’s always a lot of overlap over those, I find) it’s really helpful to work with someone who is a professional, who is trained, and who also has that distance and objectivity.

And you know that they don’t have any skin in the game so they can be more objective.

Yeah, that’s why I really recommend and use those things. I use those resources. And again, full disclosure, that’s what I do, and that’s what my business does, but there’s a reason I chose to do that and there’s a reason I chose to start this kind of business. Right? Because I believe in those things.

So, yeah, that’s my tips for success and happiness.

Thanks a lot.

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