My name is Jonathan Mueller. I’m the host of Building Better Businesses in ABA, and my guest today is Dr. Tyra Sellers. Dr. Sellers is the CEO of the Association of Professional Behavior Analysts (APBA). She has over 20 years of clinical experience working with individuals with disabilities and has held positions as an assistant professor at Utah State University and as the Director of Ethics at the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB). She’s earned the OBM Network’s Innovation Research Award in 2022, amongst many other awards, and she co-authored Building and Sustaining Meaningful and Effective Relationships as a Supervisor and Mentor. T Money, welcome to the pod, dude.
Tyra Sellers: 1:10
Hey. Hi. Hello, Jonathan. Hello all of the super sparkly folks out there listening. It’s not a correction, but I just wanna say I wasn’t the first author on that paper that won the OBM award. Dr. Seth Walker was first author. So I just wanna give props where props are due because he’s got mad skills and that is all him. I was just cheering them on, but thank you for acknowledging that.
Word. Well, that’s part of the humility and cool servant leadership that is freaking Tyra. And you and I have known each other, gosh, going back probably almost 10 years now. And so you know what’s nuts?
Tyra Sellers: 1:47
I mean, lots of things; duck-billed platypusses are nuts, the matrix is nuts, there are so many things, that are nuts.
You know fair enough. And, um, we’re probably gonna have to record podcast episodes for all of those things, including chatGPT, which we were, um, dishing on earlier.
Tyra Sellers: 2:03
Super nuts. Well, one of the things that is nuts in a super good nuts way is that you were recently named CEO of APBA and what an amazing and well deserved honor, and Tyra our field is so lucky to have you. So tell me more about the story and how it came about.
Tyra Sellers: 2:22
Okay, let’s see. I’m currently part-time because we’re still in 2022. You all are probably listening to this in the future, which is cool, in which case, if it is January 1st, 2023 or after when you’re listening to this, then I would be full-time CEO of APBA. How did it come about? Well, I left the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, at the very end of last year, of 2021. I had an amazing time there, learned a ton, got to work with great people, and then, spent a year doing contract and subcontract work and building some resources, and that was really fun. Connecting with folks, hearing what they need, hearing what they want. And it was the field’s misfortune, but my fortune that Dr. Gina Green, who has been, the former executive director and then CEO, because there was a title change, CEO of APBA, is moving on to some other cool things. And when that was announced, I thought long and hard about the breadth of my career, which has mostly focused on clinical work and provider work and how to support folks and make sure people feel like they have resources that they need and I thought, well, I probably messed some stuff up, but I think maybe I have some skills that I could bring to bear for this position, for the next foreseeable future. And so I threw my hat in the ring and I’m sure there were a ton of other fantastic candidates and I happened to be lucky enough to be offered the position and said, yes, I do. And I did. And now I am.
And now you are wedded to APBA and I’m giving you snaps. You’ve done everything. You’ve got your law degree, you’ve been an assistant professor, you’ve been a practitioner, you’ve been a P and L owner. I mean, you are in my mind the renaissance woman of our field.
Tyra Sellers: 4:30
You trying to say I get around, is that what you’re saying?
You get around in a good way. You get around in a really good way. But you’ve always been an educator and teacher at heart to me. That’s how I’ve always seen you and seen our relationship. And it seems like now you’re gonna get a chance to amplify that teaching that much further, and our field is really lucky for that. But what are your top three priorities for APBA in your first year?
Tyra Sellers: 4:54
Oh gosh. I mean, the list is endless in terms of things that need to be done, could be done, should be done. I would say, the first most important thing is to listen to what professionals need. On the individual level organizations, you know, APBP is not an organization membership. An organization cannot join APBA. But for many provider organizations who, you know, maybe they’re members of CASP, for example, which is a trade organization, but maybe a provider organization has many or all of their BCBAs, BCABAs, RBTs have memberships with APBA. So I think there’s importance in listening to individual professionals, but also organizations, as well as, state organizations and other organizations like BABA, LABA, WIBA, who work really hard to stay in touch with the folks that they are representing as a membership organization. So that’s the top priority, is to listen, and learn what people need, what people want, where the pain points are, where there’s an opportunity to encourage people and to support people. So that’s the top priority. The second I would probably say is to hopefully drive membership. Really to get the message out there that APBA should, if you are a practitioner, whether you practice in the autism space or you practice in a hospital or you do sports and fitness or what have you, that, the Association of Professional Behavior Analysts really ought to be your go-to professional membership organization. And by listening, hopefully we will be able to create resources. I guess that’s the second one. Use that information to create resources that are meaningful, that are impactful, that are easily accessible. And then the third would be to drive membership to access those resources that people have told us they need and want. Unfortunately, I think all three of those have to happen simultaneously because membership drives the availability of funds to create resources. So there needs to be those three happening, I think, in concert. But in terms of priority, it would be listening, it would be creating, and then it would be getting people access to those things.
Well, it seems like one of the ways that happens super effectively for any trade or professional association is through a community of practitioners. And coming up in March APBA is having its annual conference in Seattle. Tyra, what does wild success look like to you from that conference?
Tyra Sellers: 7:48
Well, that’s a loaded question. I mean, wild success should really look like people who attend feel that their time was spent, and they walk away with valuable information, valuable connections, their cup a little bit fuller. They feel happier, they feel seen, they feel supported. That’s truly wild success. Now there’s also a business side of things. So the other wild success is, as many people attend as can financially afford to attend. Because the people join APBA as a member and then purchase registration for the convention. We need members and we need people attending and we need that for financial reasons, but also to continue to give us feedback. So, I mean, truthfully, wild success, even if financially it wasn’t a wild success, what really matters is that people feel that they got high quality content, that they felt cared for, they felt seen, they felt heard, they had an opportunity to connect with other people. But then there’s the numbers side of it. And I will say that the convention this year, is hybrid, which, makes it much more accessible for people. So yes, I would love for people to be able to join, to register, and to drive or fly to Seattle and be there in person, and be on site and connect with folks in that way. But, you know, listen, the reality of the world is that for some people, that’s not possible. Whether or not they have caregiver duties, whether or not they have a mental health or a physical health condition that prevents or makes it difficult to attend, whether or not there are socioeconomic, factors or just people having to make decisions. Am I gonna save for, putting a down payment on a house or am I gonna buy a ticket and fly somewhere? Those should not be barriers to getting your professional development opportunities. And it opens up the opportunity for international people to attend. And, and I’m super pumped about this, Jonathan, guess what?
Tyra Sellers: 10:04
It’s kinda like having a built-in time machine also. Because all of the live streamed events will be recorded. So after the fact, if you went to Seattle and attended in person or if you’re like, look, I gotta take care of my kids because I’m sending my wife to Fiji for a week because I love her and I want her to get some r and r time. Which, plug, you should do that. So you attended from your house through livestream. You no longer are forced to make a choice between two or more competing events that happen at the same time. Now you’re gonna have to make a choice in that moment, which one you want to attend live. But because the streamed events will be recorded, you’ll have access to all of them after the fact. So if there are four things happening from 10 to 11 that you wanted to go to, you pick the one to attend live, and then you schedule it in your calendar and you go attend those other three whenever it suits you via on demand, recorded sessions. Pretty cool, which also means y’all can get a whole lot of CE’s, so I’m pretty excited about that. And if people can attend, please, please, please do so.
That’s dope because you know why? Here is the, double-edged sword of conferences and conventions for me. I go and I feel like I’m drinking from a fire hose, and it’s amazing, extraordinary. I actually, Tyra have to physically protect my teams from my own self because I just wanna come back and be like, we’re doing all of this now. And instead, think about maybe one thing to take away from it, but the whole idea is how do you disseminate that knowledge and everything you’ve learned back? And so there certainly ways to do that. With the fact that it’s getting recorded live that means the rest of your teams can see it. So if there’s a particularly phenomenal session that they need to see, or that applies the services you’re providing or the organization you’re building they get to do that. That’s freaking rad, dude.
Tyra Sellers: 11:58
Yeah. And if people can’t afford, for example, to register for the whole thing, or maybe, CalABA, which is a fantastic event, unfortunately for both CalABA and APBA, they’re overlapping in 2023. That’s something I think that conferences and conventions try to avoid for whatever reason it happened this time. If people are having to choose between the two, APBA as a hybrid hopefully will make that a little easier, if folks still wanna support APBA or they really wanna get access to that content. But the cool thing is, even if you don’t wanna purchase the whole registration after the fact, you can access, for a fee, the on-demand content. So let’s say you come back to your team and you want them to see one of the presentations, they can purchase just that presentation. So it’s also gonna be available for folks that don’t attend the whole entire convention, which is cool. And the idea is just this good stuff should be out there for everybody.
Let’s clear up a misnomer because I’m not a BCBA, I know many listeners and owners of ABA practices may not be BCBAs, but can you still become, an APBA member if you’re not a BCBA? And can you still attend the conference?
Tyra Sellers: 13:12
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, totally. There are a variety of membership levels, for folks that go from, being someone who also has a certification from the Behavior Analyst Certification Board across their different levels, including registered behavior technicians. So there’s a membership level for those incredibly important folks In our profession. There’s an “other professional member” option. There’s a consumer member option, there’s a student member option. Can I announce something here that by the time this gets published, it may be out there on social media, but it’s not something that we’ve announced just yet? Can I say it here first?
Tyra Sellers: 13:51
Okay. So there has been for the past year, for 2022, I think a 30% discount for folks that are newly certified, right? So if you become certified and it’s your first year, you can get a discounted membership. Well, we’re changing that, and we are making it so that folks that are within their first year of certification can join for just $10 for their first year. Now they can’t do a renewal at $10 once they’re after one year but for their first year because we wanna make the content as accessible to people as we possibly can. So that’s another cool thing. But back to your original question, you do not have to be a certificant to join. You don’t have to be a behavior analyst to join, and anybody can come to the convention. Certainly, membership prices for convention registration are significantly cheaper. Quite a bit cheaper than if you are not a member. But yeah, all are welcome. So get after it, everybody.
Can I tell you my APBA origin story? And when I first met Gina, who I’m not sure she would even remember me, but APBA back in
Tyra Sellers: 15:03
You’d be surprised she’s on it.
Well, clearly Gina’s on it. Dr. Gina Green for sure, she is on it, and a ukulele player, which we might have to circle back around to at some point. But I think it was 2013 in Washington, DC there was a small gathering. I mean, it was probably a group of 20, or 30 people who came together to talk about codes. Now, for many who have more recently have come into the field, we’ve got the adaptive behavior of nine codes, that’s simple. Dude, it was a rat’s nest back in the day. You know this.
Tyra Sellers: 15:35
It was the Wild West. I mean, sometimes folks were billing under OT codes.
Yeah. OT codes, I mean, psych codes, social worker codes, H codes, it was the gamut. In fact, you helped to build, when we were at Trumpet something we called the Rosetta Stone that was this translator of, all right, for this service, for this payer, in this state, pick this code and hope you don’t go to hell for it. But anyway, it was an all-day session. And you know, who’s sitting in front of me were Doreen and Julie from Card, I mean OG advocates. I had no idea how amazing this experience was, I learned so much from it, but it was just an example of APBA disseminating and bringing people in the field together so we understood what we needed to do to provide the highest quality service. It was just, it was super cool. So I’ve loved APBA ever since. What in our field is most messed up right now, and what should we do about it?
Tyra Sellers: 16:33
Jonathan, that’s a really big question. I think that this is sort of similar to the concept of a best friend. Generally speaking, I don’t know that it’s fair to say there’s one best friend, like maybe best friend is a tier and you might have multiple people, in that tier and those people might rotate due to life circumstances or proximity or whatever, so, some people in your best friend category might be bester than other best friends at a given point in time. I feel the same thing about the issues that we face, that there is the tier of up stuff. But I don’t know, maybe what I’m trying to articulate is that feels like it comes from a place of privilege because clearly what I’m gonna identify as the most problematic is the thing that impacts me the most, but that’s not to say that what is the most problematic for you or somebody else is any less problematic. So I don’t know that there’s a top, I mean, listen, we’ve made so much progress. We’ve got insurance mandates, we’ve got licensure, we’ve got a ton of programs out there turning people out. We’re a newer profession. We’re having growth pains. And I think even the issues that we have, none of them should be shocking or like, wow, I didn’t expect that a growing profession would have an issue with… you know, private backed investment or whatever, you name it; quality training or quality supervision. I think what is gonna be a big barrier is if people get really divisive, If we get into small camps and there are divisions and we can’t find a common goal within our science and our profession. That’s probably the biggest issue. So we are probably our biggest risk. Everything else feels like every other helping profession has faced these same speech pathologists, psychologists, I mean even non medical or health related helping professions like legal profession and probably even CPAs have all faced these kinds of things. I just think we’re in the middle of it, so it feels difficult. That said, I will say, I think one of the most potentially negatively impactful issues is low quality supervision because it will impact forever. But also that comes from a myopic place because that’s an area that’s really important to me. So I don’t think I can pick a single issue. But I’ll flip the question back to you. Do you have a single issue that you think is the top shelf, if we don’t get this right, we’re critically doomed?
The short answer is no. I mean, part of what I hear you say, you’re not equivocating, so I wanna be clear that I’m not hearing equivocation. I’m hearing that there’s a whole variety of growing pains. So look, I could zoom this way out and say what’s wrong with our healthcare system as a whole? Here’s what’s wrong with it. If you have means you get the best healthcare in the entire world, full stop. If you don’t have means, you don’t. That’s just how it is, and that’s not the world I wanna live in.
Tyra Sellers: 19:51
But PS that’s not unique just to our healthcare system. Education, employment, legal support, you name it. That’s just the systemic, fill in the blank, y’all know what I’m talking about. That especially Western civilization is built on.
Exactly right. Exactly right. And that’s a whole other podcast episode. Here’s what I think the biggest challenge to our field is, is if we get into an emperor’s new clothes kind of sitch where we’re like, no, we’re okay and we’re not willing to confront the myriad challenges that I could go on and on about from compliance to supervision and quality of supervision, it’s huge. Quality of training and preparation and grad programs to be successful. The uniqueness of our tiered model structure, revenue cycle management, paying fee for service, paying for billed hours instead of paying for clinical quality. I mean, wrap all this up in a bow and this is not a good surprise of what we have. Look, we’ve been fighters as a field. I’ve said this before, we’ve had to fight right in IEP meetings, we have had to fight to get insurance mandates passed. We have had to fight insurance companies to get paid. We have had to fight in appeals for families. And, if we continue to harness simply being fighters and not squarely confronting these challenges head-on, and to your point, taking a super collaborative, as opposed to a divisive, way to figure out like, then we’re screwed. I hope we can continue to confront these issues very openly, but I will put two things above the rest. One is compliance. I believe we are in for, I’m a huge fan of Game of Thrones, winter is coming, and most of our field doesn’t appreciate it because we haven’t seen other healthcare models. We don’t have to read the tea leaves on this. We just have to look to other healthcare fields, and know that as an example, the 2023 report that’s gonna come out from the Office of Inspector General who spent all of 2022 auditing ABA Medicaid programs across all 50 states. This is gonna be the watershed moment that’s gonna be 10 x the Tricare. Remember that was a 2017 letter that came out that basically said for 70% of families ABA is not effective. And there are a lot of challenges with that, and that raised the magnifying glass in our field. So I think compliance is a huge part of it. And to your point, supervision underpins everything we do. I’m not a BCBA so I’m not trying to pretend that but what I know as an ABA practice owner and what I have seen over my 10 plus years in the field is you can’t be effective as a BCBA if you don’t have, high quality supervision and you are not leading and supporting your behavior technicians in the right way. So I’d put those two up there. Thoughts?
Tyra Sellers: 22:37
No, I’m not mad at those. I’m not mad at those. I will say, and I know not everybody in our profession is necessarily a behavior analyst, right? Because you do have business owners and you do have adjacent helping professions that collaborate, and that we collaborate with, but I will say for behavior analysts in our profession, if they do what you are scared of, which is not addressing these challenges, not addressing these concerns, then they’re not being behavior analysts because those are data and we’re supposed to attend to them, and we’re supposed to identify functional relations and we’re supposed to shift when we need to or just be like Maya Angelou – do what you know you should do until you know you should do better and then do better. That’s very behavioral analytics. So I’m hopeful that there is no challenge that we cannot deal with, provided that we don’t do the emperor’s new clothes sitch, and If we think that we’ve reached it, then that’s gonna be problematic. But other than that, I’m hopeful for our profession, no matter how uncomfortable the situation might be for a while, and, for younger listeners out there, you all remember what it felt like to go through growth spurts probably. And that’s physically painful, right? It hurts. Or if you’re someone who works out or like me has not worked out in a while and is starting to work out again, or you’re trying to learn a new language or a new skill, it’s uncomfortable, it’s painful, it feels bad, growth is not comfortable always. So I am hopeful for us.
I’m super hopeful too, and you’ve given me an analogy here, is ABA like the bicep and the brain of the muscles of the healthcare world? You gotta work it and it’s gonna stress it, but the bicep, the brain get bigger.
Tyra Sellers: 24:29
I don’t know, maybe, I mean, I was sort of thinking about APBA as professionals’ nice, older sibling. As the broader community of practice for professionals. But sure, yeah, I don’t know about the brain, but maybe, maybe the muscle.
Word. Well, another unique vantage point that you have, is, you spent several years as director of ethics at the BACB and oh my gosh, talk about a front row, get your popcorn, put on your 3D glasses seat into what really happens in our field. So what is the most important thing you learned during your few years there?
Tyra Sellers: 25:12
Well, I learned so much, what an incredible opportunity that was for me. And I’m so grateful and honored that I was able to work with everybody at the BACB and to be in that position, to hopefully, continue to serve and represent certificants. The most important thing that was underscored and I think I always knew this, as frustrating as some of the things that I experienced were, it’s truthfully more wrapped up in compassion and the idea that sometimes really great people do not great things. And maybe they do those things because the contingencies arranged themselves. Maybe because they didn’t have the right training. Maybe they were compelled by someone else to do so. Maybe they just literally didn’t see what they could have or should have seen and stuff happened. Right? But I think that’s a really important lesson for all of us, is that life is hard and it’s really easy to be judgey about other people’s behavior when you don’t know the full story. And that most people are, trying to do the best they can. it’s just the best that any one of us can do is not equal to what someone else’s best is or what someone else thinks someone’s best should be. So, I mean, I think continued compassion and realizing firsthand the conditions under which some folks are working. Life is hard and our work is hard. And when those things intersect, people can be faced with some tough choices. They can make some not great decisions, but that doesn’t make someone a bad person. It’s not like I was coldhearted before I went to work at the BACB, so it wasn’t a new lesson, but it was really just multiple exemplars of that in action.
That’s really powerful because you saw, I would imagine, the seedy underbelly of some of the worst of the worst of our field. But were you and your team able to be teachers and educators through that?
Tyra Sellers: 27:17
Well, you know, certainly with each other, and certainly in terms of thinking about were there ways that the BACB or other organizations could step up and help prevent some of those things by getting better resources out there? I think that the BACB always takes the approach of, how do we help support individuals so that there’s maximal learning and avoid ending up in this situation again in the future. And so, yes, and it really depends on, whether or not a case goes through disciplinary or educational. But there’s always a focus on learning, building resources, helping people understand how this happened and how to avoid it in the future, and maybe how they can share that information with other people. Certainly there are some people who no matter how you paint the picture, they don’t accept that they’re responsible and there’s nothing I think anybody can do about those situations. But for the most part, yes, I think that is the ethics department’s primary focus. It’s not to be punitive, even though that has to be a component of any sort of body that has a duty of care, but before that is how do we educate, how do we support, how do we make sure people don’t find themselves in this situation again? So I think they’ve always taken that tact.
Hmm. Well, I wanna transition into, again, you being the Renaissance woman, you’ve owned a P and L before, so you get what it means to have to work through others and through teams to accomplish certainly high quality clinical services, but cohesive teams and infrastructure and how make sure you’re profitable, right? The idea of no money, no mission, and so you’ve taught me so much about change management. So I became a regional director, at Trumpet where we worked together many years ago, I became a regional director after you, when you headed off to Utah to become a professor and oh my gosh, there’s such huge shoes to fill. I was freaked out, but I remember we grabbed coffee or we got lunch and I asked you what advice do you have to share with me? I don’t know if you remember this Tyra, but you said this, you said figure out one thing you can do to quickly make your team members’ lives better. That’s great advice, right? Well, and your addendum to that was you’re gonna have to ask a lot of them, and you need to start by first helping them. And it’s such a true story. In fact, I don’t think I ever told you this, but I was part of one of our Northern California teams. And, and I’ll never forget I flew out on a Sunday because I had to be there that week for meetings as I was transitioning in the role and I asked that exact question, one of my, colleagues, a clinical director and she said, oh, we gotta figure out telehealth because we have this big wide spread out population. This is like 2014, this is way before Covid and telehealth ever becoming a thing. And I spent an entire Sunday at a coffee shop putting together a telehealth playbook So as to try to show up Monday morning and make their life easier. Anyway, my point is you’ve been such a mentor to me, and it’s been so cool. Starting out at APBA, how are you gonna do that, make your team members’ lives easier at the get go?
Tyra Sellers: 30:35
Well, spoiler alert. I am my team at APBA. So many people might not know this, but APBA has never had a large workforce. At most, I think there were three employees, but, I’m it, it’s just me. So that question doesn’t actually apply, but when you ask it, what I immediately think of is, what can I do to make professional Behavior Analysts’ lives better because they are my team. For me, they are my colleagues. I’m where I am to support them. That’s it. So the question really is to the people listening to this, and if you’re a business owner, to your staff that are behavior analysts, that are RBTs, that are BCABAs, what do they need? What do they need from their professional organization to make their lives better? Do they need access to high quality, low cost, professional development and continuing education material? Do they need examples? Do they need checklists? Do they need people to tell them your work is hard and we love you and keep going, and you’ve got this? What do they need? And that really would be where I would put my focus. That’s where it is.
I love that you just took that meta, dude. Oh, what it comes back to listening, right? Most important priority in the first year of APBA and, clearly Tyra, you are an army of one. You’re also a supervision guru. I mean, literally, you wrote the book along with Dr. LeBlanc, Dr. Alai on supervision and the follow up workbooks to it. What do you wish every ABA practice was doing when it came to supervision?
Tyra Sellers: 32:25
That’s such a tough question because what people can do depends so much on size and resources and what state you’re in and what you’re required to do. I guess the most important thing for every organization to do related to supervision is to care about it deeply. It’s gotta be on your top priority, along with your quality outcomes for your clinical services, your budget bottom line, revenue cycle management, and your supervision, you have to care. What you should do depends on the needs of your organization, the age of your organization, the resources that you do and don’t have. But none of that matters if you don’t care, because if you are just performative when it comes to supervision and you are not tackling it from the heart and you are not following up on things, then it doesn’t matter and you might as well be doing nothing at all and just letting people do whatever it is that they want. So what I would say is you have to care about it. It has to be one of your top, fill-in-the-blank priorities, right? Top three, top five priorities every year, ongoing forever. This is not a get it right in Q2 and then coast, no, it has to be on the top of your list and probably should be baked into your mission and or values, and you better be living it every day. So I can’t give you a thing like buy this thing or have this checklist, just freaking care about it. That’s what you gotta do.
Preach, We talk in business all the time people, employees, don’t leave organizations, they leave managers. I think in a similar ballpark in our field, RBTs don’t necessarily leave organizations they leave supervisors.
Tyra Sellers: 34:13
I mean, sometimes the whole organization is kaka, so sometimes they do leave the organization, but it’s not just because of the organization. It’s just because there’s an infection.
That’s right. Yeah. But this idea, care about it deeply. Care about your teams, care about your people deeply, and don’t give it lip service that resonates with me.
Tyra Sellers: 34:31
Well, you live that. That’s something you’re an exemplar when it comes to that. If there’s anyone more passionate than you, I’ve never met them. More connected, more caring about everybody else before yourself and so clearly feeling that and willing to be vulnerable enough to say that out loud and not care if for some people they might think, wow, you know what, you’re the big boss, you shouldn’t be talking like that. Or maybe it’s possible that some people perceive, especially in case you didn’t know you’re a white man, so maybe some people perceive that as a weakness for a white businessman to talk that way. But, for me it’s refreshing and it’s lovely and showing that vulnerability is great. So if I’m passionate, I’m like a level eight and you are like an 11, 100%,
- It’s one more than 10.
Tyra Sellers: 35:24
it’s going 11.
It’s go 11 Oh, brilliant. Spinal tap. Thank you Tyra. I appreciate that. I want to have my, slogan in 2023 instead of just like the be kind or be good to people. What about yo, give a s$#t about those around you. Thoughts?
Tyra Sellers: 35:43
I mean, I’m here for it. Give a s$#t, for sure. Yeah. And without judgment, right? The critical piece of compassion is you can’t just be puppy guarding that and giving it to the people that you think deserve it. Everyone deserves it. I mean, okay, there are a couple people out there that are super jerks. I’m not gonna name anybody because I don’t wanna make any enemies, and I don’t mean in our field, I mean in politics and y’all know who I’m talking about. But I still probably would maybe be kind to that person. I don’t know. Being kind is more maybe about you than the other people. But yeah, yo, be kind.
Be kind. I like it. Well, you know, Tyra, you’re one of the most efficient and productive people I know. And to give our listeners a sense of this, I remember you and Linda at Trumpet, wasn’t there like on Sunday mornings you each would be racing as you were working on certain research projects, over and above you’re day-to-day jobs and it was like, who is gonna be the first to get in and start cranking on writing that next manuscript on a Sunday morning? It’s just ridiculous. So I feel like I’m literally walking in molasses when I’m around you. Can you share just a couple of your most important productivity life hacks?
Tyra Sellers: 36:50
Oh, here’s a secret. I’m honestly not that purposeful about some of this stuff, which means probably that I have put myself in context with other great people that modeled great time management and prioritization and organization, and also shaped that in me. If you talk to Amber Valentino, she’ll be like, read this book and use this tip and do this thing and it will change your life. And that’s a hundred percent for sure. Like, read Atomic Habits or read Getting Things Done, and there are a ton of strategies in there that are great. Okay, here are a couple of things that I have learned. Um, manage your inbox, I know there are some listeners out there with 8,462 unread emails in your inbox. Stop it. You just need to delete all of those because if they’re more than a couple of weeks old, unless you’re holding on cause it’s got a coupon code and you wanna buy that puffer jacket for 20% off or whatever, you’re not gonna do anything with them. Get rid of it, start from scratch or calendar time and get through 50 of them every other day for however many weeks you need to until you get it down. But get a handle on your email system. Use rules, use folders. Don’t use your inbox as your storage system. So that’s one thing. The other thing is find a way to make your calendar work for you. If you asked me, Jonathan, right now, what are you doing after recording this podcast? I honestly would tell you, I don’t know. Because it’s on my calendar and when I reviewed my calendar earlier this morning, clearly it wasn’t something I needed to prep for or I would’ve added that then, and I’m gonna show, hold this up for everybody that is gonna be watching the video. I tend to be a paper and pencil person, so it would’ve gone on my list if it was something I need to prep for or send an agenda out or whatever, and it didn’t. So all that means is I need to show up to it. So I don’t know what works for your listeners. You need to figure it out, but find a system that works for you. For me, it’s putting things in my calendar, including tasks I have to get done that are not meetings with anybody, because if I don’t put them in my calendar, my calendar gets filled up with other people’s stuff, and then I’m pushing all of those things I need to do to 10 o’clock on a Tuesday night or 5:00 AM on a Saturday, and I don’t have time to be with my family, play with my dogs, go for a walk, take a deep breath. So you have to use your calendar or whatever system you like in a meaningful way. For me, that’s putting all my tasks on there. And then the last tip is, I made the mistake for a long time of just putting large, like the name of a large project on my to-do list or my calendar. So for example, I might put supervision manuscript and schedule an hour or an hour and a half. But then I’m kind of stuck, what do I do? How do I get started? And then if it’s on my to-do list, I’m never crossing that off because those are the kinds of things that take multiple meetings or sessions to get done. So don’t do that. Or if you are gonna use an overarching goal, always put the current step that you need to work on. So if I’m working on a manuscript and what I need to be doing is outlining the intro, then that’s what’s gonna go on my calendar or my to-do list, not just manuscript. It’s gonna be draft an outline. Sometimes if I don’t have enough time, it’s write three sentences or get one article and read the abstract. But I’m very specific so that I can check it off and really feel like I did that thing and then I’m only worried about the next step. So that’s it. What’s the step in front of me? What’s the next step I have to do? And those actually come, I think, from Getting Things Done, your next actionable step. So those have been helpful for me. And then also, y’all just don’t forget to have fun. I don’t care if you have to schedule in there. If you have a yo-yo and you know how to do that kind of stuff, put 15 minutes in your calendar, yo-yo time. Put 15 minutes, pet your dog, put it in there. You deserve it. You need to do it. That’s the only way you’re gonna sustain yourself. Protect that time and make sure if you’re a leader, that you’re modeling that, and that you’re setting that expectation for your folks as well. So that’s what I have to say about that.
We’ve always bonded over getting things done methodology and the next action. You know, I use my calendar and I love that you do paper and pencil, by the way, I got a D plus in first grade in handwriting, and that scarred me for life, so everything I do now, I type. I use an electronic calendar, Google Calendar, that works for me.
Tyra Sellers: 41:19
I gotta put stuff on the calendar though, Otherwise, it’s all up here in my head. I don’t know about you, but I perseverate If there’s stuff in my head, I gotta focus on one thing at a time,
Tyra Sellers: 41:29
Yeah. I don’t perseverate. I just don’t remember, I have so much stuff going on. Literally, I will forget if it doesn’t go on my to-do list or in my calendar to get done. I will not do it. And so that’s, for me, that’s what I gotta do. And even if I could remember, your brain is not an efficient storage system. It’s an efficient creating system, problem-solving system, keep space for that. Keep space for dreaming up what the next cool theme is gonna be for your kid’s birthday party or how you’re gonna solve that issue with that parent. Don’t keep it cluttered up with minutia about sending so and so that article or whatever, like get that stuff out.
Love it. All right, Tyra, what’s one thing every ABA business owner and leader should start doing and one thing they should stop doing?
Tyra Sellers: 42:20
Oh, start, oh my god, I’m gonna quote Jonathan Mueller. Okay. Ready? Start baking compliance into everything you do. You taught me that. Build it in. If you’re writing a policy, how are you gonna audit that policy? If you need to bill, how do you make sure you’re creating your billing system in the way you should? And then how are you gonna check it, so build compliance and auditing into everything you do. And for behavior analysts, that should be a no-brainer, because, for example, if you write a skill acquisition program, you oughta also simultaneously be writing a treatment integrity check that you’re gonna use to make sure your staff or your caregivers are implementing it the way they’re supposed to. You put in data collection, you better have an inter-observer agreement system for capturing and evaluating if the data are accurate. So same thing for business owners. Bake compliance into everything you do. That’s what you should do. What should you stop doing? This probably isn’t everybody, but if you are an ABA business owner and you are like, we’ve always done it this way, or you have created an echo chamber, or everybody in your organization looks like you stop that, get diversity. We already know based on the data that diversity drives better profits, better problem-solving, more creativity. So stop being homogenous. I guess if you’re doing that, don’t do it. It’s not good for you. It’s not good for anybody else. All of the benefits come from having as much diversity in terms of BIPOC folks, people with and without disabilities, LGBTQIA+ folks, folks from different educational backgrounds, SES you name it, geography, religion, everything. Taste the rainbow because it’s delicious.
Mm, I can taste the rainbow in my mouth right now. Gosh, Tyra, yes, please. It’s like in the Middle Ages was there diversity of thought, no, and what happened in the Renaissance, there was diversity of thought. This stuff just works. Mao Zedong once said, sorry not to quote the father of the Chinese Communist party, but he said, “let a hundred flowers bloom and a hundred schools of thought contend.” Now, too bad he didn’t actually follow through with that, but I think it’s the same thing you’re describing, bring some of that diversity. Make it so.
Tyra Sellers: 44:48
Yeah. Yeah. So that would be the, don’t, don’t, just keep doing the same old, don’t have everybody in leadership positions look like you because it makes you more comfortable. Don’t stay comfortable. How about that? Don’t stay comfortable.
Love it. Tyra. Where can people find you and APBA online?
Tyra Sellers: 45:06
APBA they can find on APBA’s website, APBA’s got a Facebook page and a membership Facebook page. They’ve got a LinkedIn page and a membership LinkedIn page. They’ve got Instagram, I think they have Twitter. But I’m gonna be honest with you all, I don’t have that app. I don’t know how to twit or tweet or whatever that is, but APBA has it and I have a lovely human who is doing some contract support work and that person pushes out some Twitter content for APBA, which is great. So you can find APBA in all the places that you engage in and on our website. Me, samesies, you can find me on Facebook, LinkedIn, Insta, that’s it. I don’t do the tikkity TikTok situation either. I’m too old for that, but I do watch some of the videos. I’m not gonna lie. Uh, yeah, that’s where you can find me. I’m around and you could email me if you wanted, at firstname.lastname@example.org, APBAhome.net
I felt like I was like on a beatbox there, that was pretty cool. And by the way, listeners, if there is one person who is gonna get back to you, that’s Tyra Sellers, so, follow her, follow APBA on your favorite social because there’s just some good content and good things she’s putting out
Tyra Sellers: 46:28
And on APBA social media hit us up with what you want, what you need, what you’d love to see, what you wish there was we’re here, we’re listening. One of the first things that people asked for when I first posted in early November, what do you want? They said hybrid convention. And guess what? APBA is giving the people a hybrid convention. Why? Because that’s what people want and need, and that’s what we should do. So y’all, if you speak up and if I can make it so I will do it. So let us know what you want and need.
Tyra Sellers: 47:06
Yes, we listened.
Tyra, did you know that Listen is an anagram for Silent? True story.
Tyra Sellers: 47:17
I didn’t, but that kind of blew my mind. Now I want a t-shirt that says, listen, but then like a shadow image that says silent.
I’m gonna see what I can do to figure that out for Seattle. We’ve got a couple, few months, All right. You ready for our hot take questions?
Tyra Sellers: 47:31
Uh, yes. I don’t know. Yeah, sure. Let’s do it.
Let’s do it, All right. You’re on your deathbed. What’s the one thing you wanna be remembered for?
Tyra Sellers: 47:39
What’s your most important self-care practice?
Tyra Sellers: 47:43
I mean, I’m not very good at it, but self-compassion.
Hmm. Favorite song?
Tyra Sellers: 47:48
Favorite song, you know, I’m kind of polyamorous when it comes to songs. I have a real hard time being able to say that I have only one and they change. It’s like, what am I into right now? So I’m gonna list a few songs that I’ve been playing on repeat recently. You’ll feel a vibe. The First Rebel Girl by Bikini Kill, cause why not, best song ever. Blister in the Sun, Violent Femmes, uh, Straight to Hell by The Clash, that song, super political, amazing poetry. You have to read the lyrics, it’s incredible. These are all old school obviously, also, which is very funny. A song called Pure by the Lightning Seeds, shout out to Dr. Katie Harris because she and I both love that song and sing it at the top of our lungs when we are on road trips together and anything by Joy Division. So that’s what I’m vibing these days. Clearly I like the punk.
That takes polyamorous music listening to a whole new level. That’s awesome. You’ve given me some stuff I gotta plug into my Spotify
Tyra Sellers: 49:00
Yes. Although I will say, when I mentioned to someone else that you were gonna ask me that question, because you did let me know the music question ahead of time and I thought on it, they were like, you should totally say Wap and I was like, love that song. Not my current favorite though. Can’t say it, but I do love it.
What’s your favorite South Park character?
Tyra Sellers: 49:19
Uh, does it have to be from the series or can it be from the movie?
Anything you want.
Tyra Sellers: 49:24
Satan From the movie.
He draws you in and you feel so bad for him and yet…
Tyra Sellers: 49:31
And I understand him, right? I can relate and all I wanna do is have a tea party with him. That’s it. I want a tea party with Satan from South Park, the movie. And then obviously Terrence.
That’s right, Uncle F#@ker
Tyra Sellers: 49:48
You were gonna work it in.
I had to, we start most of our text threads back and forth with UF
Tyra Sellers: 49:55
UF, that’s the term endearment for Jonathan Mueller and Tyra Sellers.
All right, Tyra, you can only wear one style of footwear. What is it?
Tyra Sellers: 50:05
Um, like super plushy, snuggly, fluffy socks.
That just envelop you while you’re having tea with Satan, I am sure.
Tyra Sellers: 50:15
Yes. Yes, absolutely. The only reason is because I have hyperhidrosis, which, for people that don’t know what that means, just is the medical term for people that sweat a lot. And for me it’s my hands and feet. I don’t know if you can see, people that are watching now, they’re really red because they’re sweaty. It doesn’t have anything to do with being nervous or whatever, it just happens. So my feet are sweaty all the time. So footwear, I have a love-hate relationship with it because either I wreck it because they sweat so much, or I’m always super self-conscious if it’s open like a flip flop or something. Can everybody see the beads of sweat on my feet right now? I don’t know listeners, is this tmi do you think about me differently? I don’t care. My feet sweat a whole lot. So socks because I can wash them, that’s why.
Oh, I love it. Tyra, thank you for being you. Thanks for sharing all your wisdom and for all you’re gonna do for our field. I appreciate you, dude. High fives.
Tyra Sellers: 51:15
Thank you, Jonathan Mueller, for making space for people to just be themselves and for being such a compassionate leader.