S. 2 Ep. 43 – What A True Thought Leadership Business Looks Like

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Cece Payne

Marketing Coordinator at SpeakerFlow - Follow us on social media to stay in the flow!

Cece Payne

Marketing Coordinator at SpeakerFlow - Follow us on social media to stay in the flow!
Technically Speaking S 2 Ep 43 - What A True Thought Leadership Business Looks Like with SpeakerFlow and Romie Mushtaq

In today’s episode, we’re talking about what a true thought-leadership business looks like.

So often, we see people label their business based on solely their delivery. “I’m a speaker”, “I’m a coach”, etc.

The challenge with this is that it does nothing to explain your expertise and the problem you solve.

So, we’ve brought on a dear friend of ours, Dr. Romie Mushtaq, also known as the “STEMinist in Stilettos”.

She brings together over 20 years of authority in neurology, integrative medicine, and mindfulness to not just deliver programs but create cultural change.

She helps organizations build a culture of wellness so their people can manage stress, improve mental health, & optimize performance.

Dr. Romie is also the Chief Wellness Officer for Evolution Hospitality, where she scaled a mindfulness & wellness program to over 7000 employees.

In our opinion, Dr. Romie is running a true thought-leadership business, and today, she’s unpacking her journey, her business model, and where she’s going from here.

That way, if you’re on this path yourself, you can learn from her experience.

Watch the Podcast 👀

Listen to the Podcast 🎤

Show Notes 📓

✅ Are you a doctor/lawyer/executive in corporate America and want to speak for a living? Get started here: https://drromie.com/real-talk-professional-speaking/

✅ Do you wonder if a Busy Brain is destroying your professional performance? Take Dr. Romie’s free test and get a personalized plan: drromie.com/test

📷 Watch the video version of this episode and subscribe for updates on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLYAr3nGy6lbXrhbezMxoHTSCS40liusyU

🎤 Thank you to our sponsor, Libsyn Studio (formerly Auxbus)! Want the best podcasting solution out there? Learn more here: https://www.libsynstudio.com/

🚀 And as always, don’t forget about all the mind-blowing free resources at https://speakerflow.com/resources/

Read the Transcription 🤓

Taylorr: Welcome to another episode of Technically Speaking, we’re your hosts, Taylorr and Austin; and in today’s episode, we’re talking about what it looks like to run a true thought leadership business. Now, so often we see people label their business based on how they deliver; so, I’m a speaker, I’m a coach, I’m a consultant, I’m an author, so on. The challenge with all of this, is that it does nothing to explain what your expertise is or the problems that you solve. Now, we’ve brought in a dear friend of ours, Dr. Romie Mushtaq, who we believe is running a true thought leadership business, to unpack her business, unpack her model, unpack her journey and talk about where she’s going from here. 

Now, Dr. Romie is also known as the steminist in stilettos, and she brings over 20 years of authority and research in integrative medicine and in wellness and in neurology, to not just deliver programs, but create cultural change. She helps organizations build a culture of wellness so that their people can manage stress better, improve mental health and optimize their performance. Now, Dr. Romie is also the chief wellness officer for Evolution Hospitality, where she scaled a mindfulness and wellness program to over 7,000 employees. 

And Dr. Romie is running a true thought leadership business, and in today’s episode, as I said, we’re going to unpack all of that; how she got here, where she’s going from here and just get a peek behind the curtain of what a true thought leadership business looks like. As always, we hope you enjoy this one and stick around until the end for some awesome resources. See you in there. Woo. Yeah. Austin, I, actually, like the.

Austin: Thank you.

Taylorr: Would you hit bump, bump, you should be the intro for our podcast.

Austin: Oh, yeah. It’ll be that.

Taylorr: There you go.

Austin: Plus, Romie dancing.

Taylorr: That’ll be that.

Austin: That’s the combo.

Dr. Romie: I have to teach you these Bollywood moves, you know?

Taylorr: Heck, yeah. Oh, so can we learn this right now?

Dr. Romie: It’s like when you’re screwing a light bulb. Yes.

Taylorr: Oh, okay.

Dr. Romie: With both hands, screw the light bulb. Yes.

Taylorr: Okay.

Dr. Romie: And then other side, screw the light bulb.

Taylorr: And then the other side?

Dr. Romie: Yes.

Taylorr: Screw the light bulb, alright.

Dr. Romie: Or the other one is, I’m number one. That’s another Indian auntie move.

Taylorr: Great.

Austin: These are dances I can do, right?

Taylorr: Yes, this is my vibe.

Austin: Because I can do it while stationary. Yeah.

Taylorr: Anything with arms, the hips, though, not happening, just arms.

Austin: Yeah.

Dr. Romie: Me too. I live in a rhythmless nation too. So, seated, it all looks beautiful when you have to put hips, knees and feet together, it’s a disaster.

Taylorr: For sure.

Austin: Yep. It’s embarrassing. I’m just waiting until I’m the next TikTok person that’s getting just hammered online because I tried to dance somewhere. So, today will not be that day, people, I got the number one thing, I got the screw the light bulb, I’m nailing that part, so watch out.

Taylorr: Heck, yeah, that’s right. Holy cow.

Dr. Romie: Welcome, you’re both officially Punjabi brothers now, so, yes.

Taylorr: Well, thank you. Wow. We hit a milestone today, Technically Speaking.

Austin: It’s an honor.

Taylorr: Nice.

Austin: It was an honor. Thank you.

Taylorr: Man, this has been a long time in the making, Dr. Romie. Welcome to Technically Speaking, it is so good to have you here today.

Dr. Romie: Woohoo. I’m so honored, I have been geek girl fangirling over this podcast, and all of you, since we all met.

Taylorr: Yeah.

Dr. Romie: And I look back at that journey of how different the three of us are, and when I first met you all and you dove into my business, good God, even as a doctor, none of us saw this pandemic coming, and I’m just so proud of both of our businesses, of where we are today and getting to gather and speak today. So, thank you for having me on a momentous occasion.

Taylorr: For sure. Yeah. What a journey it’s been. Holy cow.

Austin: Yeah. It speaks to value creation, right? I think.

Taylorr: That’s true.

Austin: At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what’s happening out there in the world. I think something the three of us can agree on, is that if you just focus on doing your best work, regardless of the external circumstances, probably, it’s going to be okay. It’s, probably, going to be okay. So, some persistence, some ups and downs, some tears and some laughs along the way, probably, but either way we make it out. So, good job for being an example of that.

Dr. Romie: We did, but I’m going to add one more thing to your list that was crucial for our team, was comfort food. We allowed ourselves comfort food. Yes.

Taylorr: Yep. Lots of comfort food.

Austin: My gut agrees with you.

Taylorr: For sure. Yeah, the COVID 30. Yeah.

Austin: Yep.

Dr. Romie: Okay, so what is everybody’s favorite comfort food? Because we ask this in the brainSHIFT Institute from all of our corporate clients, we, actually, allow comfort food on our protocol. So, right now, when we’re recording this, it’s a Florida hot summer, and mine is mango ice cream, is my comfort food.

Taylorr: Oh, my goodness. I just started drooling.

Austin: Oh my gosh. Mango Talenties. I don’t know if that’s your flavor or not, but they’re mango gelato. Oh my gosh. It’s like eating a mango that’s just been turned into ice cream somehow. It’s magic. Your aim is to test that out. That’s on my list too.

Dr. Romie: So, we have two for mango. What else are the other comfort foods? What do you think here?

Taylorr: Oh, mac and cheese for me, without a doubt. So, homemade mac and cheese, just strings of cheese when you pull out the pasta, that’s my vibe, yep. Of course, not, really, great in the summer, winter’s, really, nice. Pretty heavy in the summer, but definitely mac and cheese, though.

Austin: It’s a good one. Yep. Here’s another good summer one for you guys. There’s this company called TruFru, and they do frozen fruit covered in chocolate, and they are incredible. So, my favorite is they do milk chocolate raspberries and then dark chocolate covered cherries, and it’s the best summer snack on the planet, and also, it doesn’t break the calorie bank. So, you can still fit in your swimsuit and stuff.

Dr. Romie: Austin, you’re officially winning today for the comfort food challenge. Calorie added fruits in it and chocolate was involved, so, yay.

Austin: Right.

Taylorr: And now, I’m just feeling like we should have a podcast just where we eat comfort food and talk about it, that’s a good show.

Austin: It isn’t a bad idea, I’m game.

Taylorr: We’d all eat the same comfort food and then just have a show about it. It sounds awesome.

Dr. Romie: Right? Not what you expected when a brain doctor is coming on the podcast.

Taylorr: We have no expectations at this point, Dr. Romie, so it can go anywhere.

Austin: You’re loose here at Technically Speaking.

Taylorr: For sure. All right. Well, without further ado. Okay. So, we do a little bit of digging, before we start our show, now, luckily, we’ve had the advantage of knowing you for a long time, at this point, and so one of the phrases that you’ve coined and you, kind of, talk about this is, steminist in stilettos. I’ve always loved this phrase. Where did that come from? Let’s talk about that for a second.

Dr. Romie: I’m going to take a moment here and honor my mother and father, who are immigrants, and my dad came to the United States at a time, there was a shortage of doctors and scientists in this country, from India, and my mom came a couple of years later from Pakistan when they got married. And when I was born, my first languages were Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi and some English, because I was watching Sesame Street, back in those days, and Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, as all kids in that generation. 

And when we went to school, they almost wanted to turn me away from the public school system, and I got the label, which it has a negative connotation back then, but, unfortunately, even today, ESL, English as a second language, to which my father just boldly stood there and said, no, technically it’s her third language. I have one daughter and she will become a doctor.

Austin: Wow.

Dr. Romie: So, what I’ll say is, for anyone that’s listening, and if you grew up playing sports and you went into college for sports, you probably went to baseball camp and tennis camps. I think I was trained in that same way of academic excellence from my parents, my Indian aunties that, often, are the butt of all the jokes in my keynote lectures. I read encyclopedias in my free time; I was always made sure that I was well ahead of my peers in math and science. So, that was my foundation, where I now entered neurology at a time in the United States were less than 5% of the brain doctors in America were women. 

I didn’t know what a glass ceiling was, all I know is, I arrived, and it was suffocating me when I first started. And then you fast-forward today, I’m a CEO and a founder, so, boys, I can proudly tell you, I became the doctor and the CEO my aunties wanted me to marry.

Taylorr: Heck, yeah. That is what’s up.

Dr. Romie: And a part of our values in my team, I think every good company, you should have a values and mission, is what we call [SETAKA – 08:50] and it’s giving back. And we give back to organizations that are empowering women and girls in education, from kindergarten, all the way to the C-suite; we, really, believe that women should have access to education, mentorship, and leadership, especially, in the fields of science, technology, engineering, math, and medicine, so that’s what it means to be a steminist. And now, I’m bougie, as you all know, so you know I’m going to have designer high heels on my feet while I’m doing this.

Austin: Have to have the stilettos.

Dr. Romie: Yes

Austin: Nice. You’re chasing and accomplishing a mission in style, that is a good move right there.

Taylorr: That is like a class.

Dr. Romie: And our five-minute TED talk is done with a snap of the heels and we are done, brothers, Thank you.

Taylorr: Heck, yeah. Oh, that’s so cool.

Austin: Yeah, I like it. Okay. So, that gives the background of that mindset that you carry, which is great, I can see how, personally, branding there is, probably, very strong for you. But there’s this transition that happened, at some point, where you went from neurologist to CEO. So, what did that look like for you?

Dr. Romie: That wasn’t sexy or stylish at all, gentlemen.

Taylorr: Yeah, never is.

Austin: Real talk here, folks.

Dr. Romie: Yeah, some Dr. Romie real talk. And people may roll their eyes hearing this story, but I want people to know this was back in 2008, 9 and 10. I was faculty, a professor at a medical school that was hesitant to hire me, they, really, didn’t, typically, hire women as faculty in the neuroscience division. And I was struggling, I’m a brain doctor and I didn’t know what was going on, it was like someone had hijacked my brain cells, my cognition, my mood, my physical health deteriorated. The term now is called burnout, back then they didn’t have that term for it. 

I ended up so sick from the stress, on burning the candle at both ends; remember, I wasn’t only a doctor working a hundred hours a week seeing patients, I was a very well-known researcher researching the effective hormones on women’s brains, as well as, teaching medical students and interns and residents. And so, doing all of that in heels, ended up very sick and in life-saving surgery. And I’m, literally, in the hospital recovering, so I pause always here in the story to give gratitude to the cardiothoracic surgery team at University of Washington, Seattle, they saved my life, but I remember being in the hospital thinking nothing I’ve learned in medical school is going to help me move forward. What do I do? 

And back before there were iPhones and a yoga studio on every street corner and there wasn’t everybody’s favorite medical school called YouTube online; I found a path from our extended family to mindfulness and meditation and the holistic healing traditions of the world. And what I thought was healing for myself, traveling to Eastern Asia and sitting with the monks and learning mindfulness and meditation and going to South Asia to learn Ayurveda and herbs and South America to work with shamans. Somewhere along the way I realized, oh my gosh, there’s a better way to help people’s brain and mental health, is to bring the Eastern and Western medicine together. 

So, I came back, I got a board certification in integrative medicine, for those of you not in the medical field, it’s almost like I did two PhDs; I spent my entire twenties learning neurology, neurophysiology epilepsy, and then did an about-face at the end of my thirties to learn integrative medicine. So, it’s having two full careers saying, okay, how am I going to change the world now in heels?

Austin: Man, that’s such a cool story.

Taylorr: Holy cow, what a journey.

Austin: And what a meshing of worlds. Did you find that there was resistance when you came back to the Western world with this Eastern approach influencing it?

Taylorr: Yeah, I feel I would’ve just thrown in the towel, at that point. Yeah, how did you navigate that?

Dr. Romie: It was scary, I knew I was becoming an entrepreneur and I didn’t know what that meant, there weren’t teams like you all had to help thought leaders like me back then. So, what happened was, I did integrative medicine, people always want to know how the start happens, and I stepped in for one of my faculty members to give a lecture at a big women’s advertising conference on mindfulness and meditation. And this was before it was a thing, this was back in 2013, Arianna Huffington was still at the helm of the Huffington Post and her team of editors were there, and they were like, your story is really good, you need to share it. 

So, my first article ever in media from burnt out physician to mindful MD, gets published in the Huffington Post, and I get invited to give a TED talk. And it went, in those days, viral, and, as a doctor, I learned when you go viral, it has nothing to do with infectious disease. And companies started to call me and professional athletes and associations to come teach this, because they were like, wait, our people are stressed, this is, really, forward thinking. And guys, I had no idea that I was, I loved speaking since childhood, but at this point, I was in Orlando seeing patients in an integrative medicine clinic and this opportunity to share my message and mission in a bigger way had presented itself. 

But here’s the thing, to go back to your question, guys, is when my TED talk came out and that article and my colleagues in traditional medicine saw what I was doing; there was a lot of shame. I call it this, it was like, energetically, they were throwing tomatoes at my LinkedIn profile. Like, we trained you all these years, what are you doing? Come back to academic medicine, you’re a neurologist, this is nonsense, this is crazy. So, in that world, I wasn’t accepted, but here’s the worst part. I thought, okay. 

In the meditation, mindfulness community, in yoga, a community I’ll get accepted, but then they had their misgivings about traditional medicine, because, guys, at the core, I’m a steminist, I was loving the science behind meditation and yoga and Ayurveda I was reading, but I didn’t fit in anybody’s world. And so, if anybody is listening right now and you’re like, girl, I hear you, I fit in nobody’s world. You’re not alone, that is the recipe for being a disruptor and an entrepreneur.

Taylorr: Heck, yeah.

Austin: Oh, true that, holy cow.

Taylorr: Wow.

Austin: Provided that somebody’s willing to seize the opportunity that’s in front of them.

Dr. Romie: Yeah.

Austin: There are a lot of people that miss the things that stare them in the face, because it’s hard and scary and challenging, and you have to go your own way.

Dr. Romie: And do you want a brain science fact here?

Austin: Yes.

Taylorr: Yes, always.

Dr. Romie: I guarantee you each and every one of you at Speaker Flow and everybody on my team, we, actually, have a gene that is turned on for risk taking; most entrepreneurs who, actually, have the idea, leave a conventional setting, as all of us did, and move forward and succeed and persevere through everything we were all just talking about, that we all went through the last few years. It means we have that gene, isn’t that so cool?

Austin: wow.

Taylorr: Wow. That’s fun. There’s a real gene for that.

Dr. Romie: Yes. And I’m blanking on it right now, but we’ll get it to the show notes.

Austin: Okay.

Taylorr: Okay, fantastic. Wow. Send me some research on that, I’m very excited to dig in. I thought it was just some abstract thing.

Austin: Yeah. I think that it’s easy to think, and I’m using poor terms here because I’m dumb, so bear with me. But I think there’s.

Dr. Romie: You’re not child; you’ve been a brilliant addition to my consulting in my business. No, no.

Austin: Thank you, I appreciate you. But I think in the business world, there’s so much emphasis given to what, I guess you could compare to the nature versus nurture debate, that an entrepreneur is built from the ground-up by the person’s sheer will and desire to do so. Whereas you, maybe, just presented a concept that’s a little contrary to that, which is that some people are naturally more inclined to do that work than others.

Dr. Romie: Yeah. I think it’s both, we’re going to find it’s a both-and it’s not either-or, it’s both-and, because if you look at my risk taking and the story, I had support from elders in my community, but I grew up in a childhood at the time little girls were sent to Home EC class to make pancakes. Now, y’all, I ain’t going to lie. I still don’t know how to make a good pancake. But I can hire that outs.

Taylorr: That’s okay.

Dr. Romie: That’s not the best use of my new skill.

Taylorr: You know where to go find a good pancake, that’s what matters.

Dr. Romie: Right.

Austin: Yeah.

Dr. Romie: It was important that I did calculus and physics and got into med school, y’all. And so.

Austin: Fair enough.

Dr. Romie: There was always this going against the grain and risk taking, the only girl in advanced calculus, the only woman in neurology, even now, y’all, it’s 2022, we’ve gone through a ‘Me Too’ movement and Black Lives Matter and corporations are talking about diversity equity inclusion, and they genuinely mean it. But when there’s a convention, I am still, typically, the only female in the lineup, as far as, authority, or the entertainment speakers, they may have a female journalist that’s now an MC, but I’m still, typically, the only female authority speaker in the lineup.

Taylorr: Wow. Thank you, Romie.

Austin: You’re paving the way. Respect.

Taylorr: Paving the way, that’s right. So, here’s a question, we have all this backstory, and it seemed the idea of being a thought leader with the TED talk, writing the article, kind of, just stumbled into it. When did you say, this is now something to that I’m going to turn into a full business, did that, kind of, happen naturally? Did someone encourage you to do that when you had the TED talk, was that already on your mind, turning it into a full business and starting the speaking and consulting, where was that transition? How did that happen?

Dr. Romie: No, it’s such a great business question that I feel I should have a very thoughtful, well-planned out answer for the both of you, considering what Speaker Flow is, but I’m going to take it to a mindfulness moment is, I grew up in Illinois and we grew up watching Oprah Winfrey on WGN News. And we watched 2020 growing up, when Barbara Walters and Connie Chung were on. And I remember being home from school the day Oprah Winfrey went national. And I remember turning to my mother going; I want to grow up to be on TV and on the news. 

I had Oprah and Connie Chung and Barbara Walters modeling it for me, and I had a very traditional Asian mama, are you art of your mind? They are not going put a brown girl on TV. We have one daughter, and you will become a doctor. So, I will, honestly, tell you, there was this intuition from childhood that I would have a public platform. And so, when people started to invite me to speak, and trust me, I did everything wrong; when it came to contracts and my fees, people were inviting me and I had something to say, I didn’t have all those things polished, the processes you teach or the storytelling yet; we’ll get to that in a second. 

But what made me realize I needed to do, this had nothing to do with business, it had to do with mission, and that I was sitting in this integrative medicine clinic in Orlando, seeing athletes that had plateaued in their peak performance or C-suite executives who were burned out like me. And I’m like, I can’t get anywhere seeing these people one-to-one; I love helping them, but I’m making massive impact when I’m in a ballroom with 1 to 5,000 leaders in a company, and then I get to come back in and coach their executive C-suite team, and then we see organizational change happening. It was the mission that drove me to speak; I will tell you; it took me years to get the business stuff pulled together, in the back-end.

Austin: Yeah. Well, I think there’s something to be said about value leading the way. We talked about that when we were talking about this whole pandemic situation, that doing the thing that makes the impact for people is the thing that connects the bridges between where we’re at and where we want to be, so that’s huge. I’m wondering, what was the mindset shift for you that had to happen to take the idea that people were seeing as valuable and then scale that to the masses. 

I guess, maybe, the question I’m getting at here is, was it the message itself that blossomed or was it that you then became good at communicating that with people and the marketing efforts and things, sort of, picked up and ran with it from there? So, was it organic or did you construct it at some point?

Dr. Romie: I think both, it started to be organic and pick up, and then I realized I was not doing well, and I didn’t want to get on a track to burn out, because I’m running a integrative medicine practice and seeing high-level patients, who are very high touch, right? That can be demanding. And then the speaking and traveling career was taking off and that I’d be traveling on the road to speak to XYZ company, and then I’m getting called by patients, and I thought, one, my time is not being used well. And then when you looked at the finances, I was putting 150% into both and not yielding that, I was so blessed, and I would love to put a link to her latest book. 

The day I gave my TED talk, Pamela Slim, who is an award-winning entrepreneur, a long standing, I think she’s the coach’s coach, she’s helped build businesses for Brené Brown and Susan Cain. And she gave a TED talk the same day I did, and we became friends, and I remember just reaching out to her saying, hey, I know you’ve helped these other thought leaders, I don’t know what to do. And that was the first time I realized, you need a business coach, and I hired her immediately. 

And then, when I was open to this mindset that I need to run a business along with growing this mission, it just became a percentage of my business every year is being invested into it, and so, at some point, it was like, I need coaching on branding and messaging, I need coaching on running a speaking business and then coaching on how to be a better speaker. And it sounds like an easy recipe, but I will tell you all; one, that cost a lot of money, and two, that was a two-to-three-year process that was happening for me to build this business probably between about 2015 and 20 to 18. 

And the time that we just realized, I Am Dr. Romie, the brand, working business to business, was in 2018 and something that I never could have imagined happened, at that point, but I’ll pause to let you ask me more questions there. But I hope that answers that, people often think they’re going to come in and work with you all for six months and get it done or that they’re going to get on a call with me, which by the way, I don’t do pick your brain calls; this is why we’re doing this podcast and I’m going to give them a recipe. But it took time to do all of this, don’t you all agree?

Austin: Time and iteration.

Taylorr: And iteration. Yeah. Well, everyone has just a different position, different strengths and weaknesses and running a business includes all of those things that we need to do, but what are you good at versus what are you not? And how do you improve your process and figure out the things you love doing versus the things you don’t really love doing, so you can bring the right resources to the table. Man, if everyone had a recipe for this, we would just be making pancakes all the time, but there’s no recipe for this.

Dr. Romie: No, no, baby. You make pancakes and I will teach you both calculus and physics, how’s that?

Taylorr: That’s great. For sure.

Austin: Skill. Perfect hand-off. Yeah, that sounds awesome.

Taylorr: That’s right. Yeah.

Austin: I don’t know what I’m more excited about, though, the pancakes or the calculus. I think I have leanings in one direction, but I won’t tell you.

Dr. Romie: That’s okay, I’m not offended. I’m a unique bird out here in steminist, where brain science excites me, but carbs do, just not cooking them.

Austin: Yeah.

Taylorr: Yeah.

Austin: For sure. Fair enough.

Austin: So, I’m definitely curious about some of the logistics and how you run your business and so on, but I’d love just a little bit more context, in terms of what you, actually, deliver. Because Taylorr and I were talking about you before the show and what we wanted to talk to you about, and we think that you’re a, really, good example of this idea of same candy bar, different wrapper, where you’re taking this content, this philosophical belief on the world that you have that changes lives. 

And then, you’re framing it up in different ways based on the context, maybe it’s speaking, maybe it’s these consulting deals you have, I think there’s some technology on the horizon that maybe we could talk about, there are all these things that you do that are helping people with the core thing that you have, right? So, can you give people a sense of what are the components of your business and how do they work together?

Dr. Romie: I still want to start with this, it starts with the mission and my moonshot right now is, we’re going to change workplaces, that companies will always first assess their people’s brain power, their cognition, and their mental health, before saying, this is your role or your to-do list today at work. That’s my moonshot, that’s brainSHIFt, whole person wellness for your brain, body, and team. So, that’s my mission, and it’s, how am I delivering that mission? And right now, it falls into three buckets and we’re about to get a fourth; so, the pandemic, I just want to backtrack, this may sound normal in a post pandemic or current pandemic world, prior to the pandemic, I was that out-of-box speaker. 

I was getting called to companies like Fidelity and Google, who are saying, we’ve heard every speaker that’s out there, give us something different, to the bureaus, right? I was way out there. Now, there’s a demand for wellness speakers, so one thing I want to make clear, I was succeeding with a multi-six figure business before this topic was trendy. Now, you move in today, what are my buckets today? One, people want to understand how to take care of comprehensive wellness of their individual employees and teams, you hire me as a keynote speaker, that’s bucket number one. 

Bucket number two is, I get hired for our brain shift at work program, it is a comprehensive wellness program. People call and they say, Dr. Romie, we have these apps, or we have this wellness program, less than 5% of the employees are logging in, what can you do? I have a live eight-week program that I run with teams, and we get measurable results to help restore sleep and sanity, and a sense of connection with teams who are still, most of my clients are largely virtual or hybrid. So, that’s number two.

Number three, I get hired as a corporate wellness consultant, so whether people are working with me from, typically, it’s 6 to 12 months, and once they do that, they become ongoing clients, and we’re looking at higher-level strategies now, I’m rolling things out. And one of my favorite companies where I’ve been a consultant since 2018, I’m consulting as a C-suite executive; I’m the chief wellness officer of Evolution Hospitality. My job and what I did, was to create a customized mindfulness program for the company, scale it to over 7,000 employees, create a cultural movement and then, now we’re working on their wellness initiatives, the last two years. 

So, really, I want to highlight, when you’re a steminist, type a neurotic, unapologetic success-driven professional, for most people, being a chief wellness officer is your only job. And that consulting money that, probably, could have been that, but my mission is bigger than that, and I took what I’m learning as a C-suite leader at Evo, and this is why other companies are calling me to speak and deliver this eight-week program and consult, it’s, how do you create a culture of wellness in your companies? And that’s what I’m getting hired to do. And so, those are the three arms of my business. Speaking, that one or two hours, whatever you get hired for, an eight-week wellness program or long-term consulting.

Taylorr: Nice.

Austin: Man.

Taylorr: Wow.

Austin: Because you’re so clear. Props for that.

Taylorr: You can tell you’ve been through the iteration process, for sure.

Dr. Romie: But aren’t you all proud of how clear I am compared to when y’all participate in my game [show – 28:59].

Taylorr: Of course, so proud.

Austin: Sure. Yes, really good. Yes.

Dr. Romie: That’s good and thank you guys for the help. Yeah.

Taylorr: Well, glad we could hrlp.

Austin: Happy to contribute. Yep.

Taylorr: Yeah, for sure. Yeah.

Austin: We hear from bureaus all the time, I’ll point this out before you go, Taylorr. And this is for everybody listening too, but the most attractive speakers for a bureau, let’s say, and I think you could then extend that to anybody that buys and sells speakers, meeting planners and the rest of them. They’re looking for thought leader practitioners, people that not only have the ideas, but go out and demonstrate their effectiveness in the world. 

And so, what’s cool about you, and I imagine something that contributes to the authority that you carry, is this ability for you to not only teach the subject and help communicate the concepts in a way that people can take and run with it. But you’re also doing it yourself in a consultative effect with these clients, Evo being one of them, obviously, so you’re in that perfect sweet spot there.

Dr. Romie: Thank you.

Austin: Which is great. And people should strive for that.

Dr. Romie: And what I want, I think, especially, women who are listening to this podcast to hear is, please step into that authority, because one of the reasons I wanted to partner with you all and be on your podcast was, I get sidelined by women doctors and lawyers and C-suite executives that are thinking of leaving their careers. Thinking speaking is this new shiny object, and one thing they don’t do is step into their authority; somebody will come along and rebrand them as the confidence coach, and there’s no mention that they’re a lawyer with an MBA or a triple board-certified doctor, like I am, or they they’ve had decades in the C-suite at a fortune 50 company. And so, I, really, want to highlight what you just said so eloquently, step into your authority.

Taylorr: Yeah. Heck, yeah. I think that one of the biggest, I think this, kind of, plays into what you were saying with misconceptions, it’s funny because so many people say speaking business, but as you’ve illustrated in your business, it’s an arm to the business, it’s a way you deliver your thought leadership. It’s not like, I’m a speaker, I’m a coach, I’m a consultant, those are just delivery mechanisms; you’re an authority in this, particular, space, this is how you help, it’s true demonstration of thought leadership. And I think, to Austin’s point earlier, you’re the perfect example of what thought leadership truly means, you speak, and you consult and you have a program and we’re working on products as well. 

But you’re not just only one of those things, and so, I think everything you just, kind of, pointed out alludes to this being, truly, about being a thought leader and not so much only a speaker, for example.

Dr. Romie: I agree, and thank you for highlighting that, because there are a lot of people who are very successful at, quote, being a professional speaker, but when I see some of my colleagues who are doing it and doing it well, they’re constantly changing their subject matter. And one thing in today’s world, in the competitive market of high-end speaking, I think where I fall is, people want to hire the thought leader, I will say we were talking earlier, that I’m often the only woman in the lineup, even when there are other people, I’m often still the only person that has all the polished rules of speaking that you all know about. 

Even though, I was on speech and debate in high school, I still got a lot of coaching, and still do now, on messaging and how to structure a keynote and how to tell stories, and that makes me memorable and gets me hired again or the bureaus get rave reviews. But there are a lot of thought leaders that are hired to speak, they made a PowerPoint that even my mom and dad could do better with, and the storytelling, no. So, while all that is crucial, it’s your thought leadership that, really, to anchor in

Taylorr: Heck, yeah. Wow. That’s great.

Austin: Good mindset.

Taylorr: Man, we have to have ultra-long episodes, Austin, I feel like we’re starting to do this every time.

Austin: I know, right?

Taylorr: Which is time goes by. Yeah, okay. So, one question, the final one. So, you’ve built a tremendously successful business. Where are you going from here with it?

Dr. Romie: Oh, I’m so loving that I get to share it with the both of you, because you both ad the entire SpeakerFlow team, kind of, model what it’s like to be a male ally, and, as a steminist, I need that in the world. I think what’s different about Dr. Romie today, back in the days of neurology, there was a glass ceiling, and I was beating it down with my high heel shoe. Let me in, I got ideas. Today, I’m walking up to the next glass ceiling, but this time, just [blows] steaming up the glass and typing it, writing in with my finger, Hey, it’s Romie, what’s up. And let me tell you what that is, in 2019 and 2020, there were a lot of startups in what’s known as the Med Tech space, a tech startup that is in the medical healthcare profession. Not a single one of them that were funded by venture capitalists were founded by a woman.

Taylorr: Whoa.

Austin: Wow.

Dr. Romie: So, that is the next place that I am out loud, sometimes I’m nervous telling you, you can see my voice is quivering a little bit, but I’m so thankful you both are here to receive it. And brainSHIFT, we had to deliver wellness programs virtually; my team worked so hard, we bootstrapped together a tech platform to deliver this entire thing. It’s not just me talking, people get their labs, they go through our IP, so the last two and a half years, I have two things, both scientific proof of concept that the brainSHIFT eight-week workplace wellness works to heal burn out. 

And number two, we have proof of concept that the tech platform works. And, by the way, for any of you that are in the tech space or follow the tech news, I need you to know, I’ve been in the room with men; all they have to do is have an idea on a napkin and they get tens and millions of dollars in funding. I was told, oh, that’s a cute idea little lady, go back and build it and prove it. So, I went back and built it, so that’s my next step is, God willing, guys, you’re talking to a female founder of a Med Tech startup; God willing is where we’re transitioning in the next 18 months.

Austin: Wow.

Taylorr: Amazing.

Austin: Oh my gosh.

Taylorr: Holy, what a venture?

Austin: I know. You’re on a rocket ship, Romie.

Dr. Romie: Thank you, guys.

Taylorr: Seriously.

Austin: Yeah, that’s wild.

Taylorr: I feel we’re at, just the presence of a legend. It’s crazy. Austin, how do we end up here, man? What are we doing?

Dr. Romie: Here’s the one thing, can we also have honesty too? I love that Forbes celebrates 30 under 30 and all of that, but I’m just a few years shy of my 50th birthday. So, I think no matter what age or stage you’re at in your life, you can always write the next chapter.

Taylorr: Yeah.

Dr. Romie: And it is, but before I do that, I’ve had some health challenges this year, and I learned, I had to brain shift, get my brain in order, get my body in order; I’ve been spending two years getting my team in order and being a better leader. So, before I build this, I had to do all of that and practice what I would need.

Taylorr: Foundation.

Dr. Romie: So, yeah, we have investors interested and we’re starting to have initial conversations, so I promise to come back on the podcast and give you updates in about 18 months of where we are.

Taylorr: I can’t wait.

Austin: It’s going to be monumental.

Taylorr: Monumental, for sure. Yeah, okay. So, Dr. Romie, thank you so much for being you, contributing to the world. Coming onto the show and providing so much value.

Dr. Romie: I’m so honored to be here on your podcast.

Taylorr: Yeah, for sure. So, is there anything you have to share with our audience that they could benefit from? Where can they get more of the self-care?

Dr. Romie: Yeah. Two things. If my story of burn out is resonating with you and you’re stuck in the pandemic and ready to turn the next chapter in your book, we have our busy brain test that takes you. You get scored on where your stress levels are near, are you near burn out and you get some free resources that are based in our brainSHIFT protocol of how to start getting help. The second thing I have that I, really, wanted to share along with this podcast is, when I speak so many of you that are thought leaders and authorities yourself are like, Dr. Romie, I want to speak. 

So, along with this podcast, we have a link to an article; I no longer can take the time in my schedule to do pick your brain calls, so we’re going to link an article on my website about Dr. Romie Real Talk about professional speaking, and it, really, just breaks down what you need to know about running a business. What I invested in, and I’ll be honest, I think 50%, 75% of people read that article and decide, oh, okay, it’s not an easy, shiny object. And we have resources there, some that are free, some are paid, I’m not an affiliate, including links to all the great resources you all provide at SpeakerFlow.

Taylorr: Heck, yeah.

Austin: Thanks.

Taylorr: Thanks for the love. Of course, those links are in the show notes, guys, go check it out. Definitely explore the test; that is an incredible resource for you. And I think we can all feel busy brain sometimes, so definitely go check that out. Dr. Romie, thank you again for coming on the show. And guys, if you like this episode, don’t forget to rate it, like it, subscribe to it, and if you want more awesome resources like this, go to speakerflow.com/resources.

Austin: Bye, everyone.

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