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Meet Ronald Peacock Jr. of iMove Health

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ronald Peacock Jr.

Ronald, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
You often hear the cliche, “Ever since I was a child, I wanted to be…” I honestly cannot say that I have always wanted to be any one thing. At one point in time or another, I wanted to be a lawyer with a pink afro, a skateboarder, maybe a marine, a psychologist, a doctor, and a cop. The only thing I have ever always wanted… was to be like my dad. As a young man in a house of mostly women, my father was my beacon and my guidance. He was, to me, what a man should become, regardless of his occupation. Hardworking, honest, and dedicated to service. Serve those you love, no matter the cost.

I spent most of high school all but ignoring what I just said. I rebelled against my father, hung out with the wrong crowd, got into trouble, and all but expected that I would end up a product of the streets. At that point in time, I think I actually believed that that was the best path for me. I had no hopes for college and my vision for the future did not extend beyond a week or two.

In 2008, I had a friend who convinced me to apply for college. Eventually, I agreed, but I would only apply to one school, expecting rejection—the University of Cincinnati. After four years of struggle, temporary homelessness, eviction, and what I would call a sort of an awakening, I graduated with a BA in Psychology in 2013. I had a job out of the gate and immediately started working full-time at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital as a Clinical Research Coordinator. It had a nice ring to it; on paper it was cute, but in reality, I did not feel that I was living up to “the code”. Work hard. Be honest. Serve others.

So I left and transitioned to another role as a Rehabilitation Technician at the same hospital. After less than a year there, I knew I needed to be a physical therapist. It just fit. What’s funny, looking back, is that during the year prior to graduation, I had several friends and acquaintances tell me that I should pursue physical therapy. “You’d be a great PT”, “It fits you so well”. But I wasn’t convinced. Not until I met the craft face to face.

For the next 12 months, I worked full time, took classes full time, and then, again… applied to one school. Slippery Rock University, from where I graduated in 2018. While in PT school, I struggled with my race, with stereotype threat and what I would call an overwhelming sense of unbelonging. I spent a lot of time alone, thinking about my future. I pondered what physical therapy practice was like today and what it could become. I thought about the people connected to the injuries and their families. I thought about the burden of injury and how so many people sacrifice their bodies and their health for their families and their passions, no matter the cost. I thought about all of the athletes and non-athletes that I had worked with and the limitations of the clinic. I thought about the medical model that our country has adopted and about the financial side of healthcare. The consumer loss, the payer gain, and the undying message that dollars matter more than people.

I formulated a business plan and stuck it in my back pocket, metaphorically speaking, and did not truly think about it again until March 2020 on a fishing trip with my good friend. Three months later, we applied for our LLC, and iMove Health was born. It started as a side hustle, something that had the potential to grow. But man, it also scared the shit out of me. Even now, I’m not sure if, at that time, I was willing to dive into it 100%. It wasn’t until January 2021 that I knew what I needed to do.

In January, my dad passed away. In an instant, my foundation crumbled, and I too began to crumble. I had lost my North Star. And regardless of the memories of lessons learned and the daily reminders of the caliber of man he was, regardless of the text messages saying “his legacy lives on through you” or “he would be so proud of you”, I had no idea who to be. One of the last things my dad said to me, not even 24 hours before his passing, was “son, be a better man than me”.

Be better than me. I still have no idea what that means. How can a son fathom such a feat? But, I chose to go all in. To commit myself to iMove Health, foregoing the comfort of a paycheck, for a vision. The vision that we hold is truly about the empowerment and betterment of human lives. It’s not a foundation of wealth but a platform for freedom. It is a seed. A seed for the community, for my family, and yours, for my loved ones, for your loved ones and for the next seven generations. I say with confidence, today, iMove Health is the future of outpatient physical therapy. Tomorrow, it will be the future of outpatient healthcare. That is where I came from. That is how I got here today. Work hard. Be honest. Serve others. Be better.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
When I was working for another physical therapy company, I spent many of my morning commutes listening to a podcast called How I Built This. One thing that I learned from this podcast is that most of the great, visionary companies that we see today had it rather hard in the beginning. It is not the challenges that define you, rather your response to those challenges. For my team and I at iMoveHealth, it has been no different, although I’ll be honest, to date, the challenges have been minor.

The biggest challenge of today is personal growth. Let me explain… I was not born into a family of business leaders. I did not grow up around entrepreneurs and I’ve never had experience in the role of CEO. I’ve never even known many CEOs. I was raised by people who worked hard, mostly working and middle-class men and women, and so that is what I know how to do. The challenge, then, arises in learning, from square one, what it means and what it takes to be an exemplary CEO. Most days, it feels as if I have to bring into existence a completely different person. As if there is a new way of thinking, of speaking, of communicating with team members, and even interacting with the environment.

That process has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do and there is by no means a visible end to the growth that is necessary to lead our team to success. The challenge at hand is a constant mental and emotional entanglement between the present self and the ideal self. And as I face this challenge, I continue to ask myself, “What happens when I finally do find that other person? How will I know? What comes next?”

Another one of our realities is that medical services are hard to pitch to the general population. The market is flooded with clinics, sham therapies, and misconceptions about the resiliency of the body and what a standard road to recovery should look like the following injury. All of these are obstacles to our marketing efforts, which makes growth very slow.

Our response has simply been to share information and truth with our clients and with prospective clients. We seek to educate and inform the generations of tomorrow, those who are raising children today or those who have plans to do so in the near future. Why? Because if we can educate, encourage and help inspire these individuals at this stage in their lives, then they will do the same for their children and their grandchildren. If we can achieve that, then slowly, the narrative regarding health and wellness will improve, hopefully creating a palpable shift in an outdated perspective.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about iMove Health?
iMove Health is a community-facing physical therapy, performance and wellness company. We specialize in diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal and orthopedic conditions, but we also heavily emphasize movement as medicine and the optimization of personal performance. We hope to be a vessel for a much-needed innovation in healthcare. Our vision is simple: to inspire, improve, and impact the health and movement of all individuals. But we don’t intend to stop with physical health.

We primarily work with athletes, but not in the sense that you might expect. Look at Nike’s vision statement, “to bring innovation and inspiration to every athlete* in the world”. Cleverly, they denote that “if you have a body, you are an athlete”. And we could not agree more. Our focus is on individuals who WANT to move and be active but are being blocked by injury and are not sure what to do, where to start, or how to get over the hump. And after rehab, we offer a solution to the question, “now what?”

We don’t believe that our role stops at rehab. What about performance? Or prevention? What about the small day-to-day questions that come after discharge? We strive to be a beacon of wellness from before the first injury, to the first surgery, after and beyond. We are building a community of individuals who sow into one another for the singular purpose of advancing health and wellbeing.

One thing that sets us apart is our philosophy of care. That philosophy is to educate our clients on what we believe to be true, and to help them in that journey so that they can make the best decision regarding their health. When we find that what we believe to be true has been disproven, then we adapt so that we are always providing the best care today because we are sensitive to the fact that 5 or 10 years from now, best practices will change.

The name, logo and brand of iMove Health were crafted with meticulous intention. What’s funny is that as we discussed the name, we didn’t expect that people would start calling us iMove… but that is not the name of our company. iMoveHealth must exist together to truly display our purpose.

iMove when left alone is a statement of declaration, it is a statement of empowerment. This is who I am, this is what I do. When you add Health, it indicates our passion to move healthcare forward. Our clients, their passions and their dreams are the heart, soul and core of what we do. We serve not for “profit per client”, which is the normative approach to tracking the success of a physical therapy company. We do not try to “maximize” visit count for the sake of increased revenue. We instead serve to maximize the client experience. If you need one visit, 50 visits or none at all, we will tell you just that.

Maybe that is a naive business model to follow, but it is the right one, and we will ride that model to success or to failure. That’s the iMoveHealth difference. And that commitment to honesty and service is what makes me most proud of my team and our company.

What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned along your journey?
If there is anyone lesson I have learned in 30 years, it is to seek mentorship. I’ve always had a strange relationship with mentorship and coaching. I’ve always enjoyed learning from my own mistakes. As I got older, I went to my dad for most major decisions to simply discuss and evaluate. I never considered it mentorship. When he passed, I realized that I did not have anyone to go to when a major decision loomed. I realized that I valued mentorship more than I had known.

When you find a good mentor with whom you can relate to and align with, mentorship becomes more of a space for discussion and collaboration. Your decisions and thought processes are at times validated, at others challenged, but they are always enriched. It’s more than question and answer. It is truly a bidirectional flow of knowledge, of passion and a space for innovation and comradery. You learn not only the best answer to your problem, but you learn a way of thinking and processing information. Your mechanism for decision-making is strengthened.

The compilation of all of these moments grants you the capacity and framework for mentoring others. You are able to pay it forward so that you can enrich the lives of others. If you choose to accept this responsibility, you play a direct role in advancing the habits and growth of another individual, and through them, countless more individuals become better, more confident, more affluent, and more capable. Mentorship, whether directly or indirectly, leads to a better world.

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