A future that proactively builds health rather than simply treating sickness requires and entirely different model. My next guest offers that alternative model in Impact Medicine, a six-step roadmap for clinical entrepreneurs who simply want to help more people take control of their practice and add harmony to their life.

Welcome back to the Author Hour Podcast. I’m your host, Hussein Al-Baiaty and my guest today is Dr. Meghan Walker, here to talk about her new book, Impact Medicine. Let’s dive in.

Hello everyone. Today, I’m very excited to be with my guest Dr. Meghan Walker, and she’s here to tell us about her new book but more importantly, just to get to know Dr. Meghan a little bit. I just want to say thank you for joining me and creating some time for us today.

Meghan Walker: Oh Hussein, I’m so happy to be here. Thank you so much for having me.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Yeah, absolutely. I want to get to know you a little bit and let our audience get to know you as well. So could you share with us a little bit about your personal background and how you came to this point of work? Go back in time as far as you can go and share about the things that you grew up with. Yeah, just give us a little bit about you.

Meghan Walker: Yeah, well, thank you. So, I was fired from my first and only job, the only job I’ve ever held in my entire life. I was a student and I was—it was the summer and the backstory to that is not nearly as important as me coming home and my father looking at me and saying, “Okay, well then, what are you going to do? Because it is not an option for you to not work.” And I looked around. 

And I was sitting in the dock and it’s where I really came up with this idea for myself that, “What has to be true for me to have my cake and eat it too, right now? I want to be able to play and I know I need to be earning.” I looked at the lake and I looked at all these islands in front of me and I went, “I bet all of these people who are vacationing in the summer at their cottage would just love to have their cottage cleaned for them.” So I created these little fliers and I ran around and lo and behold, I suddenly had all of these clients. 

Unfortunately, I grew up in a household where, one, entrepreneurship was spoken about at the table like the way sports I think are spoken about at other people’s homes, and two, I had a mother who was ruthless in how she loved to clean. So I combined these two skills and I just was born into my entrepreneurial journey and then had an opportunity to work with a naturopathic doctor. 

Like so many people in my field, it was my own health that drove me to my eventual profession and schooling, and he asked me this one question and the one question he asked me when I walked through his door was, “Meghan, how has your body always and historically responded to stress?” And it was such a smart question but I was like, “Gosh, what is this philosophy of medicine?”

Like, who are you people asking such an intelligent insightful question about my health when every other doctor has only asked me, “What’s gone on in the last 24 hours?” and they’re all getting to the same dead end? So, long story short, the entrepreneurial bug which was alive and well in my spirit suddenly coincided and collided with naturopathic medicine and I went, “Oh gosh, now I have to be an entrepreneur in the health space because I just can’t help but lean into this process deeper.” 

I’ve had clinics and different businesses over the course of my career, almost 15 years clinical career, but I’ve been really clear on one thing that whole time, and that is this core belief that when people have their health, they can change the world. So it really became my mission to look at how I can put this intelligent system of medicine into the hands of millions and millions of people. And what I realized is that my mission became more important that the model in which it happened. 

So I’ve stepped out of clinical practice, I’ve just finished my book. I’ve worked with thousands of clinicians around the world to help them scale their practice, because all of this is an alignment with the work that I want to put into the world, and the opportunities that I want to leave for other practitioners and the purveyors and recipients of this health, those individuals who have big visions for impact but need their body available to them at a moment’s notice. So that’s the long story short.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: No, that’s profound. And the fact that you started at a very young age and just like, “How can I serve?” Really positioning yourself to ask that question, and maybe you did ask yourself that question or you didn’t, but looking out and saying, “No, all these people need X or need Y. How can I serve that?”

 The doing, the printing of the fliers and getting out there to doing, thinking back when you were younger, and then how that plays later in life. Now you also, you realize as you grow, as you mature, as you understand the world more, understand people more, you realize on a deeper level that, “Oh, these high performers or these people need this.” 

 It’s actually really interesting because you talk about this intersection of medicine, high performance, and business, and usually, people try to stick to one aspect of that, but you found yourself at this unique point where you’re really passionate about these three concepts and ideologies and way of doing things in the world in order to support so many people, which sounds fascinating. 

It looks like you’ve been hard at work and congratulations on your new book. This is what we’re here to talk about. So tell me a little bit, as I open up your book and I was perusing through, something really struck me at the very beginning.

So when I was — about 2011 or so — I was just finishing up college and things were still looking weird in the economy. I couldn’t get a job in the architecture world and I was dabbling in the screen-printing business, but someone told me to read this book called, The Power of Intentions by Wayne Dyer. 

It was so powerful, it really helped me channel my energy in a different way and you start your book off with that section, very purposeful. Can you share with us what that means to you and understanding that power of intention, what does it mean to you and why did you start the book out that way?

Power of Intention

Meghan Walker: Yeah. Well, what part of it was—I’ve always been really clear and I shared that this is my mission and so these things have to be true, and as I had my family and I got married and I was like, “Oh, well, we need to earn this to support our lifestyle and I want these things,” and I was just really clear. I had really strong intention and so I just assumed everyone else did too. 

One of the interesting opportunities I’ve had in my life is that not only do I work with practitioners one-on-one and have all these conversations with entrepreneurs in the health space, but my practice, I actually called the work that I do anthropology because I practice naturopathic medicine but I almost exclusively worked with entrepreneurs, and so I was really fascinated by having very similar conversations with them but they had different answers. 

One of the things I noticed between the entrepreneurs, in general, and my health and wellness entrepreneurs is that there was a ruthless clarity around the intention of their actions, the entrepreneurs that I worked with, and often they were leading larger businesses and had more experience. 

When I would work with practitioners and we would talk about their business and I would say, “What structures are we going to lean into and what mechanism are we going to lean into and what offers are we going to create, so that we’re working in alignment with your financial goals and your time freedom goals and the flexibility of your schedule?” And they would look at me like I was from a different planet and they’re like, “I don’t know how much I want to make, Meghan, I just want to help people.” 

When I heard that over and over again, I went, “Oh my gosh, we have an entire industry whose business model is simply predicated upon, ‘I just want to help people,’” which is beautiful and frightening at the same time, because there really has been a pervasive neglect of the economics behind the business models that informed health and wellness and care delivery. So I started the book that way because I think it is impossible to speak to the need for diversification of income streams. 

For example, if you don’t understand what you’re after. So whether it’s with my patients or it’s with my colleagues, I want you to envision your ideal life beyond, “I just want to help people and maybe pay my bills.” Like, you can have your cake and eat it too, to bring it back to that moment at the side of the lake, and I just want to give people the opportunity and the experience of envisioning what that can look like. 

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Yeah, I love that so much. I mean, I think pure heartedly or by your intention especially in the medicine world, where high performance or even entrepreneurship, our intention is to help people, but it’s fragmented. 

It’s an intention but it’s not backed up with resourcefulness to help you actually get what you want out of this whole process, whether it’s fulfillment, money, all those good things. I love that you started the book out that way because it was really profound. It sets the tone.

And then you go into a little bit—this is something that, as an entrepreneur myself and having gone through all those kinds of things such as limiting belief and imposter syndrome, I feel like you could write maybe three books just on those two topics, because they heavily weigh on people who are pursuing their dreams, pursuing this idea of helping other people. 

But also being financially capable and making sure that their families are taken care of and their bills are taken care of. But really, we can drain ourselves by having this mental battle as well within yourself and those limiting beliefs, and having this idea of imposter syndrome, you tend to break them down a little bit as you get better with what you’re doing.

But they’re still there and you have to navigate them and dance with them and work through them. Can you talk to us about that a little bit, the anatomy of limiting belief and how to really approach these two ideologies that exist, but they exist deep in our minds, and how to bring them to the table and work through that?

Limiting Beliefs

Meghan Walker: I’m so happy to unpack this. Limiting beliefs are—I’m just going to say, they’re part of the spectrum of the human experience. If you get out of bed in the morning and if you’re nervous system is actually firing, if there is electromagnetic energy in your nervous system, which is how it works, you are going to experience limiting beliefs. The reason for that is we were trying to survive as a species. 

Our brain, our primitive brain, was constantly in the state of, “Is this dangerous, is this safe, is this dangerous, is it safe?” and if it’s dangerous, “I’m going to protect you and I’m going to drive a neurochemical response in your brain and in your body if I suspect there is danger.” And it’s going to run on autopilot. It is like breathing and digesting, you don’t even have to worry about it. 

The challenge is that primitive component of our brain that is responsible for keeping us safe, now exists in a modern world and we just don’t evolve as quickly, and so our system is constantly attuned to, “Is this safe, is this dangerous, is this safe, is this dangerous?” And while most of us are not living in the Serengeti, at any moment having to outpace a lion, what we are in is emotionally threatening situations.

If we haven’t had an exposure earlier in our life, if we haven’t normalized rejection or failure or public speaking or risk or any of these things, every time we’re in one of these scenarios, which is like every second as an entrepreneur, your brain is firing the neurochemistry that triggers, when it interacts with our cognitive brain, the language of limiting beliefs. We’re like, “Oh gosh, I can’t do this. I’m not Hussein, I can’t do this, I’m not Meghan, I can’t do…” right?

So the limiting belief piece, and I catch myself because I experience this too, I’m like, “Oh, thank you primitive brain for assessing our potential danger.” And now, I’ve really shifted my mindset around that feeling and sentiment in my body, and I’m like, “Oh, I am experiencing what we would label a limiting belief or a moment of doubt or temporary anxiety. Huh, I must be pushing my comfort zone.” 

This is where growth happens, this is like being at the gym and your arm is sore. Well, that’s   the point. If we can step back and really, cognitively understand what’s happening in our body, it actually changes perspective. It takes us away from, “Gosh, I have to avoid that feeling and sentiment at all times” to maybe looking to embrace it, really having an opportunity to shift the meaning associated with that feeling.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Wow, that’s so powerful. For me, I grew up in America, right? Meaning, I came here after refugee camp. We went through very tough circumstances. But then I grew up here and I found there was a lot of social anxiety of course, around learning English and then writing and then talking to people and talking to girls, and it was like one thing led to another but I always felt a sense of confidence.

Meaning that if my life wasn’t threatened, I’m okay. And because at one point, especially when I was very young, my life was threatened and it was really pushed to that limit and so I felt like anything under that limit, I was going to be okay. I just needed to figure out how to navigate it. So I get a lot of – In my book, I talk about adopting and adapting, which I feel like the limiting beliefs, for me at least, were tethered to those two identities of, “All right, well, I’m limited right now but I don’t think I know English very well but how can I improve it?” And that was me adopting culture, adopting clothes, all these things, so that I can sit in this cultural narrative but also, I had these really deep abilities to do things that for other people. It seemed very uncomfortable, and to me I was like, “Why is that uncomfortable?” But obviously later on in life, I realized that that level of fear that I have goes much deeper than some of my peers, than what I have previously experienced in the environment. 

So I think it’s really powerful how you laid it out because in a lot of ways I can connect to that. The most important thing we have while doing all of these things you talk about is also around patience, which is something my father tried to drill in my head pretty much his whole life. Just be patient. But there is an important aspect of patience that you talk about, which is the letter P. Can you tell us why the letter P stands out to you and what you talk about in your book? 

“P” For Purpose

Meghan Walker: For anyone who hasn’t read my book yet, which is most people, IMPACT is an acronym and the P in impact stands for purpose. I have become slightly obsessed with the concept of purpose and the physiological ramifications of finding it. So there is lots of conversations around this idea of purpose and there is lots of journals in your local bookstore that have a quote about purpose on the front. 

I really delve into this idea in my clinical practice, when I was trying to understand why some people with the same condition and the same blood work and similar life circumstances, why one person would get better and one person wouldn’t. And I thought, we were taught it’s the social construct, maybe it is financial means, maybe it is something else, and it never was. So I was like, “No, there is a missing piece here.” 

Then what I started to realize, just by questioning the individuals I was working with, is that the differentiator came down to someone identifying that they had a sense of purpose in life. It could be their life’s work, it could be the volunteer pieces they contribute. It could be the art that they create. The key piece here was that they really identified for themselves something they love, something that they were good at, and something that could provide universal contribution. 

I make that distinction because I am not talking about my kids are my purpose. No, your kids are an opportunity for your purpose to shine, but they are not your purpose. It gets deeper than that. So when people have this capacity to articulate their purpose, which really quickly for people, I look at as the confluence of something you love to do, something you’re very good at, and something that lends itself to contribution. 

When people work in alignment with their purpose, it actually blunts their cortisol levels in their body. It changes their brains and tissues response to stress. We see individuals working in alignment with purpose who have less cardiovascular disease, less cancer, they live long, their immune system works better, nearly every outcome across every spectrum of chronic disease we actually see positively impacted by individuals who can articulate that they’re living in purpose or on purpose. 

So back to this idea of, “How do I have my cake and eat it too?” I want people to go deep on this, and one of the cool things is that you don’t have to know what your purpose is to benefit from the idea physiologically. You actually just have to commit to uncovering it, and that’s so cool because it means the journey is as valuable as the destination, but building off this idea of intention. 

I really encourage people to get very clear on their purpose because one of the things that’s so cool about being able to understand your purpose and being clear on your mission, my mission right now being how we put this medicine in the hands of 30 million people, is that you do things you wouldn’t normally have the courage to do. So the imposter syndrome and the limiting beliefs, they actually become less relevant to your day-to-day action. 

Where you’re like, “No, I am changing the world. So what? I am going to step out on the stage. I am going to take this risk, because relative to world-changing work, I can get over that.” So it suddenly puts these things in perspective and it puts your physiology and your neural chemistry on your side. So this isn’t to me just like a beautiful saying on the front of a journal, this is biohacking how you have greater impact in the world. 

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Wow, that’s so powerful. I love that you went there. I love that these concepts are not just concepts. They’re real, they’re applicable. Once you identify how these things are actually, like you said earlier, working in your body to get them to work for you, and I love that understanding your purpose, articulating it in a way, just that in it of itself is moving things in your mind, in your body, to start aligning you with the direction you want to go throughout your life, and that’s just so powerful. How do you define attraction? 

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels: https://www.pexels.com/photo/close-up-of-hand-over-white-background-255527/

Attraction

Meghan Walker: Attraction, as it pertains to the A in impact, is really how you pull people into your world and your philosophy, and the outcome that you deliver. Some people will use the word marketing but to me, marketing is a limitation on what attraction could be. Attraction also is the character. You as the leader of your system of care, and I talk a lot about in the book, about building out a unique methodology. But if you are going to build out that methodology, you have to own it.

You have to believe in the system that gives people those better income. So, attraction is the entire system you utilize to pull people in and move them through that state of transformation. But at its crux and at its core, I think it comes down to who are you as the leader driving that transformation in your business or your practice. 

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Man, that’s so unique and so powerful because yes, you’re right, there is the sense of marketing and how we put ourselves out there and all of these things, but going deeper than that, it really is about you and your foundation and working through those things that ultimately attract the right type of people to come work with you or come to your medicine, whatever it is that you are trying to pull them towards you. 

Your ideals, your idea, it’s really powerful. Tell me about a story of someone you worked with, you helped them achieve these transformation, because I know you have worked with hundreds, if not, thousands of people, the transformation that you seek to make to as many people as you can. 

Meghan Walker: Yeah, thank you for that opportunity. It’s so funny when I’m like on the spot for a story and my mind goes. I couldn’t remember a single person I’ve ever helped in my entire life. If I look right now at our ecosystem of practitioners that I am working with and obviously being respectful of their identities, there is a few key themes that I will say have emerged, one of which is it can be quite lonely to be a practitioner. 

I mean, we hear about, in the news, this idea of pervasive burnout and mental health challenges with practitioners, and I think this comes back to, it speaks to the power of our model but it speaks to the power of community, and I think this is something we have all lacked over the course of the last two years. 

I am going to say, more than 90% of our practitioners on March 14 of 2020, certainly in Canada and it was impacted in the United States as well, the government in Canada shut down all allied health clinics across the country, virtually and in person. They went, “We don’t know how to manage the pandemic, we don’t know how to manage what you might say as an entire population of practitioners and so what we’re going to do is just prevent you from interacting with your patients.” 

Overnight, individuals, these practitioners who are instrumental, in many cases the primary care of their patients, were legally cut off from being able to interact with them. We immediately created, the next day we’re like, “Everyone, get on this call. Let’s talk about it.” For the subsequent two weeks, we got on calls every single day and people were in tears and people were frustrated and some were angry and some were solution-oriented, as we all do in a time of crisis. 

But one of the things that was just so powerful for me was to watch, not my leadership in any way, shape or form, really all they did was create the Zoom room, but watch the leadership of the entire room come together when individuals had a framework to follow. When they went, “Okay, how do we mitigate the financial risk in our practice? How do we protect ourselves? How do we ensure that there’s continuity of care of our patients? Who is going to do what?” 

And so, it speaks to two things I think. One, having a framework and clarity of intention around what needs to happen in your business when you actually take responsibility beyond, “I just want to help people,” and you’re like, “No, I am going to take ownership of the variety of things I need to own as the CEO of a business,” and simultaneously have intentional communities who all buy into that philosophy of leadership. 

We saw incredibly powerful changes on mass overnight as an entire collective of people. To me, it really reiterated the power not of what one person can do but what the power of intentional community can do together. 

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Yes, such a powerful story because anything medical related, I mean, I feel like anything, it’s such a—it’s community service. It is civic engagement to me. It’s putting your life literally on the line for other people. It is such a service oriented industry that I can only imagine. I feel like I’ve heard so many stories but I feel like I haven’t heard the tip of it as far as what happened at the beginning of the pandemic and pretty much throughout. 

I mean, it’s heavy no matter how you approach it, and I am grateful that your work. And isn’t it interesting how, for me, the reason I asked you at the beginning how did you get into this, what was the passives that led you there, and I’ve had this previous conversation or with others, it is interesting for me. I feel like the universe maps out and picks out people who can help in times like this, right? 

But start them out very early, at a very early age and there’s these almost invisible seeds that are being planted within you, and you go on a journey and you go on your hero’s calling. Then eventually, everything that you worked for, everything that you’ve learned and the mistakes you made, they all come out in that one moment of complete and utter service, and I think for you, you really highlighted that for me in that story. 

Because I feel like all our work is connected to something much more powerful than ourselves, but we have something to do in order to get that thing, whatever it is, to be able to serve our communities with it. I just feel so grateful to have gotten to know you today because I love how these seeds within people grow and manifest and it becomes their lifelong career and work. 

But to me, it also is their identity of who they are as a human and how they’ve been able to serve our world. Personally I’ll just say congratulations to you because writing a book first of all is hard. 

Meghan Walker: It is hard. Yeah, we need to just acknowledge that. 

Hussein Al-Baiaty: It’s really hard and then on top of your family, your work, your clients, all these things so for me, it’s like I’m grateful that people come and share their wisdom through a written word so that more people can really identify with and obviously learn from and grow with. So congratulations to you, this is a huge thing and so I hope you, when your book launches, celebrate, celebrate and really get this thing out there because it is so important. 

So for all the people out there grinding away, what’s your message to them? What is one thing you hope they can take away from your book? 

Grind With Intention

Meghan Walker: We all get into the grind. I would encourage everyone to just pull back on two things. One, get very clear on the intention of what you’re doing. Sometimes you are grinding it out and you have to stop and go, “Is it worth it? Is this actually moving us towards our north star? Should we be doing this?” I have stopped so many projects mid-projects. I went, “Wait a second, I got caught up in ‘everybody’s doing this’. This is not even serving our greater mission.” 

So really check in to make sure the work you are doing every day, and the time you are giving up and the energy and soul that you are putting into your work, is in alignment with that intentional life you want to be living. And the second piece, I would encourage everyone to lean into is this notion of discovering and uncovering your purpose, and it will evolve over life and the skills you acquire and the experiences you have and how you can serve. 

Those will change over the course of time, but doing the work to really identify those things that light your soul on fire, it literally can come down to the fact your life and your legacy can depend on that clarity. It is work that is definitely worth doing. 

Hussein Al-Baiaty: I love that so much. Thank you for sharing that Meghan. Well, I learned a lot today. I know and I hope that our audience did too. Thank you for sharing all your stories and experiences. So the book is called, Impact Medicine: Take Control of Your Practice. Reach More People. Add Balance to Your Life. I know it’s available, so besides checking out the book, where can people find you? 

Meghan Walker: Yeah, the best way to follow along with our adventures is to hang out with me on Instagram and my handle is just @drmeghanwalker, and lots of stuff happens over there. 

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Sounds awesome. Thank you so much for joining me today.

Meghan Walker: Thanks for having me. 

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Absolutely.