Alumni Spotlight: Howard Spector, MA Counseling 2004
Howard Spector is the CEO and Co-founder of SimplePractice. He has years of experience creating and developing technology companies and was the creator of TrackYourHours.com. He has a MA in Counseling Psychology (2004) from Pacifica Graduate Institute and a BA from the University of Southern California.
Who is Howard Spector?
Hi. well I currently am the Co-Founder and CEO of SimplePractice.com, a cloud-based practice management system for behavioral health & wellness professionals. I have a diverse work background including many years working in the technology field. While doing my clinical training after graduating from Pacifica I ended up creating a software product calledtrackyourhours.com to help track and report my training hours. Over time, trackyourhours has become the main tool California pre-license clinicians use to track their hours to ensure compliance with the State’s requirements to sit for the licensure exam. I sold trackyourhours a few years ago so I could focus on SimplePractice.
Tell us about Your Work –
My work currently involves running a rapidly growing technology company serving a very unique customer base – therapists.
How/Why did you get into this line of work?
While I had every intention of getting licensed and opening a private practice, I got a bit sidetracked when I started my first software company while doing my clinical training. It became clear to me pretty quickly that my path would take me in a different direction and that sometimes things don’t always go according to plan and that’s ok. I believe one has to be open to things and trust your instincts.
What is most rewarding about it; what makes it all worthwhile?
I love our customers because i feel so connected to them. After all, in many ways these are my former classmates and colleagues. I know firsthand how challenging, important, and meaningful this work is and I am so grateful for the opportunity to help our customers run their practices. I am also very proud of the team we are building here and am driven by my desire to build a company with a nurturing and supportive culture so everyone here can truly thrive and enjoy the work they do. We are in the business of helping people tho are helping people and we all feel that we’re on a special and important mission.
What are the most critical problems faced?
For us, and any business, we have to take risks without knowing the outcome. Investing time and money in something that isn’t a guaranteed success is scary and you have to really learn to trust yourself. Delays, unforeseen expenses, and competition all factor into the overall stress that comes up and the emotional ups and downs can be draining.
Has there been a defining moment your life that made you decide to take the direction that they did?
I think it’s a combination and building of so many things. I think it’s many moments in life when I’ve felt truly connected to who I am and can trust that enough to make decisions from that place. I actually wrote about this my Master’s Thesis – I called them moments of Encounter.
If we’re sitting here a year from now celebrating what a great year it’s been for you, what would be your “dream” achievement?
Having a great team and customers that are all happy and thriving.
How do you keep a healthy work/life balance?
Constant work in progress. Stay physical, eat well most of the time, meditate regularly and have strong bonds with family and friends. Also, do work that inspires me.
What brought you to Pacifica?
I discovered Jung when I was a teenager. I think it was when the Police album, Synchronicity, came out and I read Jung’s lecture On Synchronicity and something just clicked. That lead to Memories, Dreams & Reflections and while reading that book I had the most vivid dreams and overall just felt a strong connection to what Jung was writing about. That was really the beginning of it all. Many other books helped connect the dots. Three that come to mind are Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Campbell’s Hero with a Thousand Faces and Robert Johnson’s He.
I actually went to Pacifica twice. The first time I was in my 20s and it was defiantly the wrong time and left after two sessions. I wasn’t prepared for the intensity and openness. A decade later I literally woke up one day and thought “I want to go back to Pacifica” and a month later classes started – great timing.
How has your Pacifica degree served you professionally in your occupation or your vocation?
Invaluable. I couldn’t do what I am doing without it. Not only because it gave me real insights and an understanding of the profession. But also because it gave me the sense of trust in myself to follow my path
How has your degree served you personally?
It grounded me and normalized things and, again, helped me trust that who I am is ok and that these things that have so much meaning for me are actually very powerful and important things in the world.
Any last thoughts/a favorite quote?
My time at Pacifica was a dream, a gift, and a time of incredible meaning and experience and I am so grateful for my classmates, professors, administrators and everyone who makes it such a unique and powerful place.