You could say I was born into holistic medicine. Literally.
That’s because I was delivered by Dr. Larry Krantz, one of the founders of the American Holistic Medical Association (and had my first chiropractic adjustment 15 minutes later). And I’ve been under the care of holistic medical providers ever since. I was born in Colorado and raised in England and South Africa (which accounts for the accent). I was the only seven-year-old in my class who saw a homeopath. My parents were leaders of their community and big proponents of holistic medicine. That, and they, made a big impression on me.
But like any kid approaching adolescence, I started to think my parents were insane, and rebelled by doing the opposite of whatever they did. I graduated from the University of Nottingham with a degree in health economics (which in fact did come handy down the road), and then became an investment banker.
That is, until I had a crisis of conscience one year into my stint as a banker, and thought, “I just can’t do this anymore.” And that’s when I switched careers and got involved with integrative medicine. A return to my roots, in a sense. I started working with a cousin who had been very successful in the spa industry, and who brought the first natural skin care line to America. I went to work for him, then became a supplement rep for his tiny company.
In that sales role that I had the opportunity to interview 1,000 health practitioners, ranging from hospital specialists to Reiki practitioners, and got a grassroots education on what it takes to be one. And I learned that integrative medicine practitioners of every type weren’t being given the tools they needed to be successful. In fact, many of them struggled on the business end of things—they didn’t know how to set up their practices or manage them, and often found themselves in financial trouble, or unsure of what to invest in (or avoid).
These healthcare practitioners are entrepreneurial in spirit, but lack the tools to disrupt the medical model on their own—and that’s where I come in. In fact, it’s part of my mission.
THE PROBLEM I KNEW I COULD SOLVE
And that’s what I knew I could and would do: Empower the pioneers of next-generation medicine so that they could shift the paradigm and provide an alternative to people on a larger scale. Because without some business acumen or support, they didn’t stand a chance.
Neither do traditional doctors, by the way. I’ve spent quite a bit of time around them as well, enough to know that they, too, are trapped by the system, and lack the entrepreneurial know-how to strike out successfully on their own. While deservedly respected, M.D.s by and large aren’t taught to be leaders; they’re trained to execute on worst-case scenarios. And given the state of healthcare in this country, it’s not hard to see why they’re increasingly frustrated.
PUTTING THE “CARE” BACK IN HEALTHCARE
The very reason doctors go into their line of work is the same reason alternative healthcare practitioners go into theirs: They want to treat, heal, and support people, not push paper—and yet that’s exactly what they end up doing. Traditional doctors in particular spend far too much time locked in battle with insurance companies to make the difference they started out hoping to make.
I’ve been influenced by many greats in this field, including Jeffrey Bland, Mark Hyman, and Robin Berzin—true leaders who have inspired me and so many others, and are changing our perspective of health, and our lives, in the process. And while I’m not a doctor, I can facilitate this critical shift via my large and fast-growing network, my education in health economics, and my experience as an entrepreneur, specifically, in the worlds of healthcare and functional medicine.
My desire to expedite this major shift in medicine is the genesis of Functional Forum, the world’s largest integrative medicine conference, which I founded in 2014 and hold the first Monday of each month for health professionals, medical stakeholders, and digital entrepreneurs. Through the Forum I curate a new form of practitioner education, which I call “medutainment,” a mixed-media format, combining interviews, TED-style talks, and audience interaction with the latest health news, research, and health technology. Thousands tune in every month—not just because it’s informative, but because it’s upbeat, engaging, and makes a difference in the way they see the industry and themselves. (View the complete archive.)
My ultimate goal is to empower more doctors to transition to the functional medicine model which will allow them to run their own thriving practices, infuse more meaning and connection to their work, and get back to the business of helping people the way they’d always imagined they would.
- Community, not medicine, creates health. Just like in the Blue Zones, inhabitants all share one very strong trait: a powerful sense of community that result from various factors, one of which accountability to one another. Doctors need this too - support, camaraderie and social relationships to connect with each other and ultimately fuse the fragmentation.
- Leadership is a key part of the solution. Functional medicine doctors are being held hostage by the current system, and a better model would empower them as leaders so that they can go from cogs in a wheel powered by big business, to the linchpin that accelerates the evolution of medicine.
- In pushing the boundaries of the current discourse and challenging the status quo.
- We need to take root-cause resolution from the fringe to the mainstream.
- To create better health, we need to make a critical shift away from conventional, western medicine, with its disease-care focus and myopic view of illness and people, toward one that emphasizes root-cause resolutions, and that heals the whole person.
PURPOSE: Only when you can align your function in the world with your passion, can you make a remarkable difference.
SERVICE: There’s no greater purpose than serving others.
EMPOWERMENT: The most powerful way to challenge the status quo is to believe in and support other people to make it happen.
ADVOCACY: Taking a stand to represent the unheard voices and needs of the collective gives my life meaning.
CREATIVITY: Engaging the community in new ways is fun and exciting - and more of an art than a business.
CONSCIOUSNESS: Awareness of the rest of the world, their needs, each individual’s connection to humanity and the earth we live on.