The Entrepreneurial Life Chose Me

I was trained  to be an Ear, Nose, and Throat physician, but the life of an entrepreneur chose me.
My employee mindset changed as a result of an interview during residency. The interview was with a private practice physician, who I had known during my training. He had first-hand knowledge of my assets as a physician: surgical skill, sound judgment, physician-patient rapport and superb communication skills. Despite my positive attributes, his job offer for my annual salary was significantly less than the price of the Porsche 911 he was driving and much less than the MGMA (Medical Group Management Association) standard for physician compensation. MGMA is the resource leader for healthcare salary compensation.
This experience left me baffled and humiliated but I realized something very important… I didn’t have the employee mindset that most physicians do.  I wanted the freedom  to create and design my own practice and there was no reason I couldn’t do that. I thrived on risk to experience a greater reward. I despise rules, structure and predictability. I wanted to change the world, not just have a job. Failures in my mind were setbacks and an opportunity to learn. Despite all the challenges I have faced over the years, starting my own practice was the best decision of my life. I was able to build a team and office culture of stellar employees.  I was able to tailor my practice to the aspects of ENT that I enjoyed most – minimally invasive procedures to treat chronic sinusitis and improve nasal obstruction. My patients are so thankful to be offered minimally invasive solutions to avoid the downtime, healing, and expense of more aggressive surgical alternatives.
Once my ENT practice was successful, my next venture was adding a Medical Spa to my practice. So many patients would not consider cosmetic rejuvenation procedures because of artificial and unnatural looking results. My goal was to achieve a well- rested youthful appearance without the obvious tell-tale signs that a procedure was performed. This difference in approach allowed me to attract patients that were looking for intervention that appeared natural, not artificial.
Things were going so well for me until I was diagnosed and treated for Thyroid cancer at the age of 34.  I had surgery to remove my entire thyroid gland and I had radioactive iodine treatment. Because the exact cause of thyroid cancer is unknown, I suspected that my diet and choice of personal care products I used could be a contributing factor.  I decided to detox my life by eating better quality food and avoiding pesticides. I reviewed my personal care products that I was using; like shampoos, lotions, deodorants; and eliminated chemicals as much as possible.
I reviewed the ingredients in the skin care products I was recommending to my Medical Spa clients and I was appalled that some products didn’t clearly list their ingredients and all of them contained chemicals that I didn’t approve of.  I was appalled when I found out that there is no federal regulation of ingredients to protect the consumer from dangerous chemicals.
From my frustration with the cosmetic industry, my next entrepreneurial venture was born.
I set out to create a skincare line that addressed common anti-aging issues such as dark spots, loss of elasticity, blemishes and more. The ingredients would be plant and mineral based, contain no harsh ingredients or chemical preservatives. The ingredients needed to work synergistically to provide superior results. KalVera Skincare was created to provide consumers with healthy skin care and to support my mission to educate consumers about hazardous ingredients found in personal care products and empower them to make safer choices.
My journey as an Entrepreneur has been euphoric but it is not the lifestyle for everyone. Entrepreneurship is often a lonely, risky, anxiety-provoking and ever humbling expedition. It can also be addictive. Although KalVera Skincare is my most recent creation, I doubt it will be my last entrepreneurial endeavor.
-Dr. D

What Does Beige Say About You?

We live in a world of conformity. No one wants to stand out or be different. Fitting in feels like hanging out in your favorite pajamas. Beige is neutral so we wear it, paint our walls with it, cover our floors in it, and even drive in it. No other color makes a more unoriginal statement than beige.
What if we all had beige personalities? Beige means dependable, conservative, and flexible, as well as neutral, calm, and relaxing. But beige is boring as h#$*.
Here is what goes through my mind when I see someone who is beige:

  1. They are afraid to be unique. Being beige is the perfect way to fit in and not get noticed. This works especially well if you are uncomfortable in your own skin and don’t have a sense of who you are.
  2. They are safe and conservative. Beige people will not take risks. If you can’t take a small risk with your wardrobe, how can you possibly be interesting?  This is not the person you want to invite to a party, unless you need furniture for the corner.  
  3. They have no sense of style. If you have a burning desire to wear beige, please coordinate it with a bright accessory or a bright wardrobe piece that has a significant spark of color. Don’t wear beige because it matches everything, and it allows you to be lazy.  
  4. Their house is beige so they can sell it easily.  The walls are varying shades of beige, and so are the carpets and floors. Most likely the residents are wearing beige, so they can adequately morph into their surroundings.

My advice to anyone who just can’t break their beige habit is to move out of their comfort zone and get uncomfortable.   Embrace color with your own individuality so that the world can benefit from your unique contribution.  Remember, beige is boring…are you?

My Favorite Supplements for Skin Health

Although there may not be a direct correlation between skin conditions and internal body conditions, maximizing your body’s nutritional health can improve the elasticity and radiance of your skin. Glowing healthy skin tends to catch our eye.
In contrast, weathered skin makes us appear as if we are rusting from the inside. Oxidative stress can be a strong contributor to the aging process. On a cellular level, oxidative stress leads to damage within the mitochondria (the energy producer) of the cell which produces increased amounts of reactive oxygen.  Without another electron to bind to, these free radicals wreak havoc within our internal organs.  
Surprisingly,  there are things you can do from the inside that can help you look better on the outside.  Here are few of the best ingredients to supplement beauty:
Antioxidants. Vitamin C is necessary for the formation and maintenance of collagen. Vitamin A is necessary for the repair and maintenance of skin tissue.  It can make a dramatic difference when used topically in the form of Retinaldehyde or Retinol, but foods high in beta carotene are beneficial to the skin. Vitamin E protects the body tissue from free radicals.
Antioxidants should be taken in a preventative manner as they are not effective once the damage is done. Additionally, when antioxidants are combined, there can be a synergistic effect.  These powerful antioxidants can be obtained from natural sources such as fruits and vegetables but these days it is difficult to get the amount of antioxidants we need.
Vitamin B7/Biotin can beneficial for hair, skin, and nails. It must be ingested to be fully beneficial. The data on this is weak but it has not been found to be harmful to humans in large doses.
Minerals such as Selenium, Copper and Zinc can also be effective.  Selenium can help protect the skin from sun damage. Copper, especially combined with Vitamin C and Zinc can help develop elastin fibers that support skin structure. Zinc and sulfur can be helpful in acne patients.  

The decision to supplement is a personal one. Some believe that we can obtain all of our vitamins and minerals from our diet. However, with the use of pesticides and poor farming practices, the nutritional quality of our food has decreased. So much so that we would have to consume a ridiculous amount of food to obtain the same nutrients in comparison to years past. I personally believe supplementation is vital to those of us who wish to thrive.
If you do opt to supplement, choose a company that personally sources their raw materials. Supplements manufactured in an FDA facility have stricter standards. Look for seals from Leaping Bunny, Good Manufacturing Practices, Natural Products Association and many others. I prefer supplements that are Non-GMO, gluten-free, and do not contain soy, binders, fillers, chemical slurries or artificial sweeteners.
My favorite products
If you’re looking for a couple of new products to try, here are two of my favorites:

Beauty Boost is a great supplement that promotes healthy hair, skin and nails.

Vinali promotes youthful skin through a blend of vitamin C and grape seed extract, a powerful antioxidant shown in studies to produce anti-aging effects

Love Your Shoes!

It may seem trivial and superficial, but women typically bond over shoes, while men bond over cars. Women will usually go out of their way to compliment another woman’s shoes. I have to admit it is a great feeling when a stranger compliments your shoes.  
Now, you may think because I am a doctor that I have a closet full of Prada, Gucci, and Louboutins; however, that is not the case.  Of course, these shoes are beautiful, but I refuse to pay over a $1000 to be uncomfortable, despite their beauty.  I like shoes that are unique (most of the high-end brands have shoes that look too similar for my taste) and comfortable.
While on a trip to San Francisco, I stumbled upon a brand that was unique and comfortable – a dream come true! John Fluevog is a Canadian shoe designer noted for his progressive art deco styles with messages engraved on each sole. I was concerned that the styles might be too edgy, and not professional enough for my Saint Augustine clientele, but I bought them anyway.
These shoes really reflected my style perfectly. Almost every female patient would exclaim “I love your shoes!” as soon as I walked in the door. The shoes seem to be an immediate ice breaker with any patient, new or established. They immediately felt less anxious about seeing me, the doctor, because we talked about shoes for a few minutes before we began the medical portion of the visit.
One patient declared that if the surgery fixed the problem that she has had for 30 years, she would put a “statue of me outside of her house….with those shoes on!” Contrary to what you may think, I have had my fair share of conversations with men that start off the same way.  
I learned a valuable lesson from the internal conflict I faced when buying those shoes in San Francisco.  If you remain true to yourself, your style, and your personality, you can never go wrong.

Botox got rid of my RBF!

I have been injecting Botox for over a decade.  What makes these injections so much fun are comments from patients that lead to uncontrollable bursts of laughter.  These are the days I love my job the most. Recently, my Thirty-three year old patient, who is an Intensive Care Nurse, returned for her second Botox treatment.  When I asked if she was pleased with her results, she immediately exclaimed “Botox got rid of my RBF!  I loved it!”  She went on to tell me how her husband now makes comments to her every morning about what a good mood she is in.  “It’s interesting that he says that, I am always in a good mood but he thought I was unhappy.   So glad my RBF is gone!”
I finally caught my breath after more laughter and she went on to tell me that she enjoys talking to people but they never seemed interested in talking to her.  Now she talks to people everywhere, including the grocery store and the gas station.  She said her patients open up to her more and their families are kinder and more appreciative at the hospital.   
People seek cosmetic intervention not solely for vanity as most outsiders may assume.  My patients always tell me they want their outside appearance to match their inside feelings.  What they mean is that they are internally happy and energetic but their wrinkles, downturned mouth, or hollowed cheeks, make them look sad, tired or worst of all- angry!  They want to look as good as they feel.  They want to be approachable and engage with others.  After all, as human beings, this social interaction is the one of things we desire most.  So, the next time you judge someone for getting Botox, keep in mind, they may not be vain, they have the procedure done for an entirely different reason.  

Stay at Home or go to Work?

The age old debate continues.  To work or not to work?
Mothers decide to work or stay at home for many different reasons.  Staying at home may just be more economical, and less stressful for them and the family. Moms can spend quality time with their children and not miss the milestones of life.  Most importantly, if you so choose, you can always go back to work when the children are older.
However, working women may choose to work because they enjoy adult interaction and having their own identity in addition to being “Mom.”  These women can earn a paycheck and positively contribute to the family’s finances.  Additionally, they hope to raise independent children and set a positive example as a role model.
Society and other mothers are quick to judge women in either category.  It is assumed that working mothers don’t pay enough attention to their children and that stay-at-home moms are not very interesting.  
In my own personal experience, my sister and I both completed medical school and are each mothers of two boys.  My sister decided to work one day a week, and I decided to start my own medical practice and medical spa.  
Two very different life choices that created a significant conflict in our relationship.  Both of us believed we made the right choice…and ultimately we both did.  
For me, working gives me a sense of accomplishment that I desire and a need to feel fulfilled.  I have worked hard to balance my career and family and I have raised healthy-minded, independent children. 
The bottom line – the decision to stay at home or work is an entirely personal choice that you have to make for yourself based on your personality and goals.  It is not anyone’s place to judge what is right for you or your family.
If you’re a mom, have you decided to stay at home or go back to work? What are your reasons? Do you feel judged for them?

Want Others to Value You? Start By Valuing Yourself

“Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time. Until you value your time, you won’t DO anything with it.” Dr. M. Scott Peck – noted mental health physician and renowned author 

In the last few years, this quote has become woven into the fabric of my life. In my earlier years, I hoped for people to value me. Then one day I realized no one would value me until I valued myself.
Once I valued myself, it truly changed my life. On a personal note, there were people I spent time with that did not add value to my life. I removed these people from my life and immediately met new people who were confident, happy and more aligned with my personal and professional mindset.
Valuing myself led me to value my patients and my practice more. I hired staff members who were vested in their job and the service they provided for the patients. I realized patients with negative attitudes drained me by not allowing me to take proper care of other patients. Those patients made me question my decision to be a doctor.
Thankfully, as I have become more clear and purposeful in my life, these negative patients have dwindled. They have been replaced by pleasant patients whom I value and value me in return. The result is an enhanced physician-patient relationship which is beneficial to both parties.
By valuing myself, I have given myself time to explore my other interests. I have developed a love for writing, public speaking and media appearances on television and radio. These outlets add dimension to my life, thus allowing me the perspective to help people in different ways.
What have you done to value yourself that improves your day-to-day life?