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Megan Walker: Hello and welcome to Market Savvy Conversations. My name is Megan Walker, and today I'm joined by a very special guest, Howard Todd-Collins. And we're going to be talking about Howard's journey from traditional delivery of healthcare services to entering into the online space. Hi Howard, how are you today?
Howard Todd-Collins: I'm very well, thank you for having me.
Megan Walker: An absolute pleasure. So start us off, Howard, tell us your background, what you've studied and what you've been doing up to this point in your career.
Howard Todd-Collins: Yeah. Okay. Now I have a master's in counseling. I'm in private practice and the director of a practice in Melbourne called Men and Relationships. I've been in private practice for about 15 to 20 years. A lot of my work is sort of focused mainly with men, but I also work with couples and with women. So individual therapy, psychotherapy, and couples therapy. So I've been working in that space particularly for about 20 years or so. And I'm a man, so I have my own sort of professional and personal development journey in the background of what I've been doing. I've been married for 27 years. I have a daughter who's 24, and I'm originally from the UK. So I've been in Australia for, ooh, 31 years, 32 years or something. Half my life pretty much in Melbourne. So that's my background in terms of my work life.
Megan Walker: And tell us a little bit more about choosing to really niche in and be specific. I love a niche, but what made you decide that, yeah, I'm going to put this flag in the sand and focus more on men?
Howard Todd-Collins: I think I've always been interested in, initially, my own personal development as a man. So that kind of got me interested in psychology and self-development. And I was working in mental health for a long time, working with men, adult men mainly, who have mental health issues in a non-government sort of sector. I was working in outreach, I was managing teams and eventually did some more study. So I kind of formalised a lot of my interest in men's emotional wellbeing through my masters. So I've always had an interest in my own personal development on other men. I've been involved in men's groups and facilitated men's groups and so on over the years.
So it's always been an area of my own interest. And I guess it's probably what helps me to connect with a lot of the emotional development work that I do now. And I think the last five or six years particularly, I've done some more training in relationship therapy, Gottman therapy, emotion focused therapy, a lot of mindfulness based therapy over the last five to eight years or so. So it's all combined in my own interest in emotional health in general. But men, there's just not a lot or not enough stuff for men. I mean, we are getting better at it, but I think I just found myself at home working with guys and I've been lucky enough to be able to work in private practice with men who are ready and willing to do the work, I guess. So that's been really exciting for me and it continues to be what I really love doing, which is fantastic.
Megan Walker: When I talk to you, you always seem very energised around this topic, which is so good. It's such a wonderful thing to see in play. And I wondered about your advice for other practitioners listening and watching this conversation. Do you feel that choosing a very heart driven, I don't want to say cause, but that heart driven direction helps with your practice sustainability?
Howard Todd-Collins: Yeah, it's a good question actually, because I mean, ultimately yes. Because it's work that is from my own heart, but also it means something. At the end of the day, I have a privilege, I guess, to sit with men on a regular basis and women and couples and provide space to hold people's need to make transformations in their own life.
So if I hadn't done that in myself, it would be hard to connect with the work, I guess, in a way. So it's become a, well, partly a vocation, but also a real passion of mine. Which is sitting in a room with someone, helping them transform their lives is amazing. And it's more than just listening to people's problems. Some people kind of often ask me, how can you listen to people's problems all day? And I mean, I don't feel like I'm listening to people's problems all day. What I'm doing is helping them transform their problems into something that's much more hopeful and much more lively and much more joyous in a way. And I love doing that work. It is tiring work, there's no question. Which is what got me to the online ideas of doing something a bit different.
Megan Walker: Yes. So tell us about that. You read my mind. You're going global, we're hitting the worldwide web. Tell us about your thoughts taking what you do traditionally, in a traditional private practice. What are you aiming to do that will help serve a wider group of people?
Howard Todd-Collins: Okay. Well, I kind of discovered maybe four or five years ago that there was some consistent themes in my conversations, particularly with men and also in relationships. That I began to think a lot more about more psychoeducation educational programs, about the struggle that men have to communicate with confidence and to connect well in their lives, but also in their relationship. And I think really this idea of online stuff began to emerge through Covid.
Megan Walker: Yes.
Howard Todd-Collins: And I discovered Zoom, which I never heard about before until Covid hit. I began to realise that would be more available online, and my practice actually went from being much more localised to working across states in Australia where people could find me online. So I began to see, then there was an idea that was brewing in my head about a kind of process blueprint that was coming into my room almost every day about what men were struggling with, what they needed to learn, and how they could transform their view of communicating and connecting in a relationship sense.
So the course idea was just brewing in the background. And then I discovered an American guy who helped me initially with an idea of how to put the message out. And then I discovered you and some amazing work that you are doing, and of course other allied health professionals that are trying to work out a way of putting a message out there and if it's a particular topic. So my focus is on transforming men from feeling frustrated and disconnected, a lack of confidence in communicating to be much more open, expressive, much more able to identify their emotional lives, to connect much more intimately with their partners.
So the course itself kind of began to emerge over a few years, and I found a way at the moment of describing it as a process. So the course itself has developed over all these years of thousands of conversations with men and my own personal development and my own training I guess. But men, I think like steps of following steps of things to do. And so the course itself is literally a four module program. It's called the Care Effect and each part of the C-A-R-E is a module with lessons attached to how to get from frustrated, disconnected, withdrawing, to much more present, engaged, connected.
Megan Walker: So good. So good, Howard. I love it. And that's just amazing. So I really appreciate how through those thousands of conversations you started to see the overlap and repetition among some of those steps. Was it a light bulb moment that, how did you see it and come to arrive at Care? How did that actually all then go from all that thousands of threads into, you know, you're making one wooly jumper?
Howard Todd-Collins: No, this sounds a little bit sort of, well, a bit cliched I think. But I learned to sit in the silence of my own mind for a while because it was brewing for a while. And I actually think it came to me a few years ago when I was just walking on the beach sort of trying to work out what is this about? Where is it going? What are these steps I'm trying to take men through and how does it really look? And I just began to sit with it for a while. There is something about sitting in silence for a while to learn to let things brew. And it just came to me, I can't remember when it was. But it was something like walking on the beach somewhere through lockdown where I had a few ideas and then it just came to me.
Men need to care about themselves and about their lives better. And I just found that each part of that process fitted beautifully with the anacronym. So the first part of the process that I have with men when I meet them is how do you connect with yourself? What does that even look like? So that there was the connect part. And I began to realise that I was learning my own mindfulness anyway at the time, and I teach a lot of that in my consultations with me. And so there's the first step, connect with yourself in a more mindful way and we can teach men how to do that. The second step was being more aware, how to create awareness of your own thoughts, your own feelings. There was the second module, awareness of your own emotion and feeling.
The third module was like, how do you actually reflect on your relationship with your partner? What are the values? What are the ideas? What are the processes involved in that? And then the last part of course is how do you engage with your partner? How do you communicate? So it all came together on a walk on a beach somewhere near where I live. And then I began to just have these sort of drop down lessons to just crystallise in my head, you can't change your relationship without changing yourself, really. And then we go from there. It sort of became a much more clearer process, a kind of blueprint in itself.
Megan Walker: So good.
Howard Todd-Collins: Next step was building it.
Megan Walker: And it seems obvious now. When you talk it through, it's like of course, it's Care. But the work and the years and the processing behind that to create something that's simple, anyone can create something ambiguous. But the work that goes into creating something clear, it's actually really challenging, isn't it?
Howard Todd-Collins: Yeah, it is. And it's taken a lot of time, but the most powerful part is if you can find space to sit with it for a while, something emerges, which is what therapy's about, of course, and what counseling is about. But if you can it for ourselves with a bit of guidance, we can find these moments of clarity. And the marketing of it is another story, which is where I learning a lot with you about how do I take that message that comes from all these years of talking, thinking, reflecting, and putting it into some kind of package that people are interested in. But it comes from my own experience essentially. And that's created its own particular sort of blueprint, I suppose.
Megan Walker: Yeah. And so as we start to head towards, we'll wrap up our conversation soon. But I'm just thinking for others who are listening to you and they're in that world of I've seen five or six people a day, I've got to do my report writing. The only way to earn more is to see more people, but I don't want to burn out. It's such a quandary, isn't it?
Howard Todd-Collins: Yeah.
Megan Walker: What would you say would be your sort of top maybe, I don't know, three tips for starting to think more nationally, like the change you've made. From that, thinking locally of who I'm serving, who can drive here in a car, to then thinking more broadly, what would be some tips you'd share with others?
Howard Todd-Collins: The first thing I began to realise was that I had a message to put out there.
Megan Walker: Oh, I love it.
Howard Todd-Collins: Which is a kind of self-belief story that I've got something more to offer than just sitting in a room. So it's kind of broad. So that could be put out there. So it's self-belief I think, but also I had to do a lot of work on my own limiting beliefs as well, that I couldn't do that and had my little inner critic in the background, the fraudster. But I learned to manage that and to get other people to help me through it. So I think self-belief is a really big thing. The other part of it is that there are systems that can help people like me to get out there. And that really only developed when I've discovered Zoom. That I could be on a Zoom meeting with someone in Sydney when I was in Melbourne, and then they could see me.
And then the social media part of it that people could see me in different parts of the world outside of my consulting room. So that idea of being expansive, as scary as it is, but it's possible. So that's the second part of it. This is all possible. We've come a long way from being so narrow in the world now. It's a very small world in a way, but we can put ourselves out there. And the recognition that there are tools and processes and great support to take someone like me out into the world. Those are the two big things. And the third one is, I just think it's balancing it all with life and time. It takes time. This is a slow burn. I mean, my whole process of my course has been a slow burn. It's taken me four or five years, and that's okay. That needs to be gently managed. You can't just jump in with all the steak knives and forks that go with it. And it takes time to process. And that requires patience and really good people to help you along the way.
Megan Walker: I love that. It is a long-term vision. I mean it's taken me three years to move completely from selling time in a consultancy to having online courses. And I had a conversation just last week with a Facebook expert in California and I was saying, oh, I'm going to get to the point where I'll start thinking about the US. And he said, all you have to do is click the box that says America. And it's funny, here I am picturing myself in a boat rowing from Australia to America, and really that global access is here now, isn't it? But it's just our own minds of thinking, oh, they are people. My niche is now global. It's not the 10K radius. I can find those people wherever they are and help them.
Howard Todd-Collins: Yeah, exactly. Which is amazing because early on in my career, the best thing I felt was people will come into my room in Colin Street, Melbourne, and that was it. That was enough, and that was enough, and it still is enough. But there is a part of me that wants to put it out there more. There's a message here, which I think is really valuable, and it's bigger than just my consulting room, it's bigger than that. Which is kind of like, whoa, let's give it a go. And I've always wanted to do more than just the consulting. I have a particular way of talking about stuff that I think is kind of valuable. And I've done a bit of that with some media in the past and a few TV things, and print media. And it's great when I do it. I love doing it, but I do want to do more of that. It takes me out of my comfort zone as well.
Megan Walker: Yeah. I love it. So the big takeaways that I've got from our conversation is that you've really tapped into your why. You've thought about a movement that's bigger than yourself, and you've tapped into your own beliefs that you can do this, this is possible, and you are willing to accept the visibility as part of this, and you've got your patience.
Howard Todd-Collins: Yeah, exactly. Oh, that's a great summary. Yeah.
Megan Walker: How can people find out more, Howard and follow you? Where can they, tell us your contact detail?
Howard Todd-Collins: Well, there's a few things. I mean, I'm on Instagram, so it is @mantalkwithhoward. I've got a Facebook group or Facebook page rather, and mantalk.com.au is the website. And my actual practice, my counseling practice is MenInRelationships.com.au. So there's the counseling part, and then there's the sort of coaching online space and social media.
Megan Walker: So good. Oh, it's been an absolute pleasure talking to you.
Howard Todd-Collins: Thank you.
Megan Walker: I love the trajectory that you are on. You know, fast-forward a year and another two years and think where you'll be staying on this path. It's very exciting. So yeah, thank you for being one of my beautiful students and having this conversation.
Howard Todd-Collins: It's a pleasure. And thank you because you're doing some amazing work. Thanks, Megan.
Megan Walker: Oh, pleasure. See you soon. Thanks, Howard.
Howard Todd-Collins: Thank you. Bye.
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