Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD
Living Holistically Through Intentional Living
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Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Today we have a very well renowned guest in her field in the physician coaching space, Dr. Faryal Michaud. And she is a palliative care physician by training. But she is a mindfulness coach, teacher, and she teaches women clients how to live on purpose and with meaningful intention. So she's been gracious enough to come on to the podcast and share her wisdom. So Faryal, welcome.
Dr. Faryal Michaud, MD: Thank you so much for having me. It's an honor to be here as a guest on your show. I love what you've been doing.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Yeah, our mission is to just get the word out, spread the word out, all the different information resources, all of the products, services and people that can help others on their journey. So we'll get started. I know you're based out of Hawai’i, but just tell us a little bit about your journey and how you got into what you're doing. And I think a lot of the audience will be really fascinated.
Dr. Faryal Michaud, MD: Thank you so much. Yeah, so I am actually a palliative care physician, as you shared with your audience. I have been practicing medicine for a little over 21 years now, I trained as an internal medicine physician, and I was an academic hospitalist for a while. And while I was practicing hospital medicine, it just occurred to me that people were just being treated for the same thing getting in and out of the hospital without having a meaningful conversation about what they want to do.
So for example, a good example always comes to my mind would be a sweet little, 78 year old lady with a bad heart valve that was really not surgical. So they would come to the hospital, and we would give him treatment. And the family would think that “she's getting better.” But we'll see her next week because that non surgical valve isn't getting better. So I just was always like, why aren’t we having meaningful conversations with people? Asking everyone, knowing your time may be limited, how would you like to spend it? So that's why I actually decided to shift careers and started our palliative care program. I lived in Sacramento, California at that time, and I started an inpatient program, and later we had an outpatient program. So my purpose was really trying to listen to patients, knowing what their values and goals were, and then help them align the medical treatment we offer them to those issues.
So palliative care came very naturally to me. And I felt like it was a natural progression of my medical career. But what was fascinating about how coaching can come into this is that, because of what I do, I really touch people at the very last chapters of their lives. Like, by the time I see them, they've already had a diagnosis. Sometimes they've already gone through three lines of chemo, and that's failed. So I just really got into having a lot of deep meaningful conversations, and listening to people talk about their regrets, or when they retell their life story, all the should have, could haves.
And, then it just occurred to me that I'd really love to have this conversation more upstream. So what if I asked people what their wishes and goals were in their Well years, and then tried to align their life with those things? And just coaching sort of was a natural progression of palliative care as well. So yeah, it's fascinating that I hold the seriously ill patients, but also, otherwise well patients that don't really focus on what matters most. And I like to be a gentle wake up call to all of us that our life is finite, and we should do the best we can to live the life we were meant to live.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: That's a wonderful story. And what jumps out to me is that you chose to delve into and expand on the deeper aspects of patient care and medicine, really focus on the meaningful experience as opposed to the assembly line type of healthcare system that we're accustomed to. So I think that's really in your learnings and what you got out of it really helped you in what you're doing now.
So, one question I think the audience would have is: When you focused on these meaningful experiences and when you looked into coaching, was that more just because you were more aligned with your values? Or did you see something in the healthcare system that caused you to question the way things were being done? I'm curious as to how to expand upon the meaning.
Dr. Faryal Michaud, MD: Yeah, I mean, I think that's a very, very good question. Like, why even think of coaching and so I remember we used to do well care, well, self care in my palliative care physician when we were in California. And my chaplain, one time told me, she's like, Dr. Michaud, you're so inspiring, you should really work with well people too. And I was like, Yeah, that sounds great. But I just don't know what I would do with well people like, what would I offer them?
And it actually was my own personal work with a life coach. I always consider myself to be someone who's somewhat balanced, and somebody who tries to have a very healthy life outside work, and then trying to be very present in my own life experience, but it wasn't until I had a life coach myself, where I was able to take those very meaningful teachings and principles that I knew as a mindfulness teacher, and kind of combine it with the tools of life coaching.
So when I was coached, personally, it really deeply impacted me. And then I thought, I want to pursue this, I want this for other people. And as physicians, as moms, I can just talk about my own experience. I'm 52 years old, I have two teenage girls. And I just remember when my children were younger, I mean, even now, it's like, when I'm at work, I can't completely be at work, because I'm focused on what's going on at home. At home, I'm struggling, because I'm still pajama [working] at night.
So there was so much of this, work life conception and misconception and imbalance in lives that was creating so much unhappiness in a lot of colleagues that I saw, female or male. And, and so it just really meant that I wanted to, I felt a pull, almost like a calling, to try to help all the people that were in my line of work during to say, it matters that you live intentionally in the moment right now, with all that's going on in your life. So I think you can look at that transformation that I experienced myself and feel like I really want that for other people.
And the experience that I always share with people is that, if you ever go on a vacation, like the very first time I went to Kaua’i, which is one of the Islands in Hawai'i, was in 2011. And I remember when I was in Kauai, I was thinking, why is it that any person who's ever been to this island that I know, didn't tell me about it? Feeling like this is such an amazing, beautiful thing. And I go to tell my friends, like, Have you been to Kauai? And they said, Oh, I went there for my honeymoon. I said, Why didn't you tell me about Kaua’i?''
So I sort of feel like life coaching because it's so profoundly made my life experience from like watching a black and white movie to a high definition experience where I'm like, Oh my gosh, I'm on I am present. I am living this life and things that are not working, I have the tools to manage my mind. So then that's what I was like, I want to do this for other people.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Yeah, that's an amazing story. And I like how you incorporated nature, and just getting down to the simple things in life, like family, relationships, love, compassion, over the material things, the hustle, the grind, all of these things are all societal, cultural values. So, I love that.
I know a lot of physicians, they're interested in these days, they want to transition careers, maybe take their expertise and help other clients. So how does one become a life coach? And what sort of qualities would benefit a person who's interested in life coaching?
Dr. Faryal Michaud, MD: That's a very good question. And I would have to say that being a life coach, you can be a life coach and hardly make any money, and you can be a life coach and it's a multi million dollar industry. And I know, personally, physician colleagues that are, I would consider dear friends of mine that are truly making multi seven figure income doing this kind of work. And so it's something that you definitely can do.
Life coaching is not a regulated industry like medicine is. So you can just get a $48 course online and call yourself a life coach. And I think, even the term life coach is kind of funny, like, you're a coach for life like you. If you think about it, like I think life experience I, I think if you've had a lot of life experiences, and you've had a lot of shareable wisdom, like I feel like as a life coach, me personally, is that I give my clients the gift of perspective, because of years of practicing medicine, and because of more than 10 years of practicing palliative care. And I feel like in some way, I have been a life coach for a long time. And I decided to actually take additional courses to become a certified life coach.
Now, there's a lot of different certifications. And again, they're not all, you could go be a life coach with this person, or that person, or there's high performance life coaching. And I'm not trying to endorse a particular school. I personally went to the Life Coach School, and I did certification, which was a six month long program. And I love that group. I really love the community and a lot of physician colleagues of mine who are also life coaches, not all of them, but most of them went to that school. So I liked the camaraderie.
But having said that, I personally invest in a lot of coaching myself, and I am currently working with a coach that is not part of the Life Coach School. And, and, I very much enjoy working with him. So what I want to say is, unlike medical school, there's a lot of ways to become a life coach. And again, you don't even need a certification, I think you can share your wisdom. Because you can be a coach, you can be a coach to guide people. But my particular school, The Life Coach School, what I loved about them is that they really teach the concepts that I have learned and known as a mindfulness teacher, in bite size, easily teachable concepts that clients can then incorporate in their lives. So that's where I would say,
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Yeah, I love that. Because, a lot of physicians when they think, Oh, why do I need a life coach? Or why do I have to pay for these types of services? And they'll pay 300,000 for an MBA or a degree. But I think some of these institutions don't teach you the real world, how to connect with clients, and to really help clients out of their troubles. So, I think coaching is really, it's a burgeoning industry. And there's a lot of resources out there. And there's a lot of new, different and types of ways to, to help others.
Dr. Faryal Michaud, MD: Yeah, thank you so much. I do want to say one thing, it's true, you don't need to have a life coach to navigate through life. And I think you can on your own truly. I have been a student of personal development for years. And you read your own, you can read your own book, and listen to your own podcast. I mean, it's been, it's a beautiful time we live in right now because you can tap into what - I don't remember when was the last time I watched television? There's so much information out there and you can just really enrich yourself without any help.
But I think that, so you can coach yourself honestly. If you're someone who is actively engaged in self development and self growth, do you need a life coach? And I think the answer to the quickest answer to that would be, let's say you want to build a particular physique. Like let's say you are someone who wants to get really good results at the gym, can you do it yourself? You can, but if you invest in a personal trainer, and if you worked with someone who not only guided you but gave you feedback, gave you encouragement, told you the blind spots, the way that maybe you're lifting the wrong way. This is what I'm saying you can get both ways. One, one way you may get injured, you may make a mistake, it may take a longer time, you may have to take off three months because you hurt yourself. The other way you're doing it under the guidance of someone with wisdom and someone who will see your blind spots that you can't.
So to answer that, does everyone need a life coach, I personally believe that if you're someone who really wants to invest into creating your life, and having the best version of you show up a higher version of you, I would think investing in a life coach is [a worthy investment]. If you have the resources because they are not, they're not inexpensive. But I would say that if you are someone who can do that, it's a huge, huge investment in you, in who you are.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: I know you have several courses and several products coming. So feel free to let the audience know, as well as how the audience can connect with you.
Dr. Faryal Michaud, MD: So to share about what my programs are, I have to offer. I have a paid program for women physicians, they're not all women physicians, I have some oncology nurses, I have like a handful of graphic designers and social workers. But mostly I would say 95% are female physicians, I have a group coaching program. And it's called Living intentionally. It's mindful coaching and yoga. I, as a mindfulness teacher, also believe the importance of mindfulness and meditation and yoga. So I have hired certified yoga teachers, both of whom are actually living in Honolulu live classes. In addition to recorded sessions, these two, Ami and Jen, are two of the most celebrated yoga teachers here in the community.
But what I want to offer you is that I have a paid program that women get to join me for six months, and it's called Living Intentionally. We go over all aspects of life. Because what I've learned, there are coaches that only coach for money, or coaches that coach women for weight loss or time management, I've learned that what we struggle with is our relationship with life. It's our relationship with time, it's our relationship with money, it's our relationship with food. So once you learn how to have a more mindful relationship with life, all these issues sort of fall in proper places. And what's fascinating is that women are in my program, and they lose 40 pounds, those of them who want to lose weight. And, one of my clients said that, one of the biggest celebrations for her this new year's resolution is that she didn't have to pick weight loss as a resolution anymore, because she already managed her mind around it. It's not a diet, it's not a, Hey, this is what you're going to do. But it's, what is your relationship with food? The same applies to time management, clutter control, the same applies to your relationship with your spouse, with your children, with your in-laws, with your colleagues, the same principles. So it's a six month program, and it's fairly small, I don't like to have a very large group. And we meet weekly in a group setting. These are live sessions, they have access to my very expansive, private portal, which are lessons, worksheets, self paced programs that people can really enjoy. They also have access to a private podcast that kind of teaches them some of these principles.
But I also offer free services and I wanted to showcase that for all of your listeners. As a palliative care physician, it really is important for me to have an impact on people whose lives have been affected by serious illness. So I actually offer free coaching to people with serious illnesses. What that really means is, let's say, God forbid, one of your listeners has been, or their parents have been, diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. While I'm a doctor, I'm not your doctor, but I will be glad to get on the call, help you navigate your thoughts, straighten your anxiety or whatever that means for you. So I do coach people with serious illnesses for free. That's not group coaching. Some of those clients want to work with me and those who choose to work with me and want to continue working in a serious illness capacity, also have that opportunity. So the very few one on ones I have are for my seriously ill patients and their families.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Well this was wonderful. So thanks so much. You've dropped so many gems of wisdom. I love your compassion. And you can just feel your authenticity and your love for people. So thanks so much. And we’ll drop all of your resources in the show notes. And we wish you a very prosperous and happy 2022.
Dr. Faryal Michaud, MD: Thank you so much. And thank you for having me. It's been a pleasure to talk to you and hope to see you at White Coat Investor Conference again this year.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: this year, and I believe it's going to be in person this year. So I'm looking forward to that.
Dr. Faryal Michaud, MD: Yeah, looking forward to meeting you in person. Thank you for having me here.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Many thanks again for being here. If you’re new, you can find me online at Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD, where I have links to other episodes or links to online resources that will support you on your financial literacy journey. I’ll see you there in on next week’s show. While I bring you thoroughly vetted information on this show regarding a variety of financial topics, I cannot promise you a one size fits all solution. This is why I caution you to continue to learn. Educate yourself and seek professional advice unique to your situation. If you want to talk to me, I welcome it. Please reach out via my website or email at Chris@drchrisloomdphd.com. I read and personally respond to all of my emails. Talk soon!
Editor's note: This transcript has been edited for brevity and clarity.